Books & Literature

Book Review: Early One Morning, by Mem Fox & Christine Davenier

CHILDREN’S BOOK: Early one morning on the farm, a boy sets out to find his breakfast. Where could it be? In the tractor? In the haystack? With the sheep?

A lovely book of discovery as a boy searches for his breakfast on his farm.

You would be hard-pressed to find a person in Australia, adult or child, who hasn’t heard of Mem Fox or read one of her books. After publishing, arguably her most famous book, Possum Magic in 1983, Fox has continued to be one of Australia’s most prolific children’s picture book authors, with over 45 under her belt so far. Most Australians will have their favourite, whether it be Koala Lou, Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge, Wombat Devine or Where is the Green Sheep? to name just a few.

Fox’s latest offering to the world of picture books is Early One Morning. Over the years, Mem’s books have been illustrated by a long list of talents. Christine Davenier, a French illustrator and author, has brought more of an old-world feel to Early One Morning as her colourful water colours are more reminiscent of children’s books in the 1970s.          

This is the story of a little boy setting out early one morning on his farm to find his breakfast. But where will it be? In a truck, a tractor, a haystack or from a sheep? The little boy travels around the farm and, eventually, the child who is listening to/reading the book will have their guess confirmed: but only by looking at the final illustrations (not in the text) so the child is also encouraged to do some thinking.

Plenty of clues are given along the way (he is followed by an almost perplexed chicken) and towards the end there is a lovely illustration of the whole farm and the boy’s path of discovery. The joy on the boy’s face and that of his mother when he eventually gets back to the farmhouse with his breakfast is lovely. 

Early One Morning is easy to follow even without the text and there could be much discussion before the story is even read, working out what it is about. 

The choice to explain that the boy was looking for something which can be laid, rather than just a breakfast food, is interesting as the chicken following the boy would have been enough of a clue for the reader to work out what he was looking for. Nevertheless, Early One Morning is a lovely story for the young child and may just become a new favourite in their Mem Fox library.

Reviewed by Sue Mauger

Distributed by: Penguin Random House
Released: 2 March 2021
RRP: $19.99

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