Alex T. Smith
(Hodder Children’s Books)
When Egg rolls up to the front door of Foxy DuBois’ house and is warmly welcomed by the charming vixen, he has no idea that there is a sinister ulterior motive to her perfect hostess behaviour. Egg is oblivious to all the clues around the house that make it pretty clear that Foxy has a particular penchant for eggs and chickens and has every intention to eat him. But when Foxy is very close to succeeding in her devious plan, the egg hatches and brings a rather unexpected and abrupt end to it.
Regular readers will know how much I loved Alex T Smith’s Claude in the City and was looking forward to discovering more of his work. Egg, which was published before Claude, is no disappointment.
The perfect partnership of quirkiness and humour is again present here and makes this book such fun to read. It may sound ludicrous that an egg should be so “human” in its behaviour, but it works: he is smart, has good conversation, good table manners and is very apt at after-dinner games (they play egg-and-spoon race … oh, the irony!!). It may sound very silly but at no point do you question it, because it is so funny and wacky that it just works. The artwork works in perfect harmony with, and mirrors, the tone of the story. I love Alex T. Smith’s style. It is vibrant and fun, and oozes mischief. Foxy is a great character; Alex manages to make her look sweet and innocent, but with a glint of pure evilness in her eyes, which means young readers will catch on quickly that something is afoot.
They will also enjoy discovering all the little details allowing them to get clued on Foxy’s real intentions: the back of the dining chairs, the recipe books, the numerous artwork on the walls etc … I think children love to know something the book characters don’t (à la Rosie’s Walk, also featuring a fox and a chicken) and take great delight in being vindicated at the end. But I doubt they will guess the ending here! However, they will undoubtedly be in fits of laughter over it, and so should any adult in their right mind when they see the illustration on the back endpaper, and the comments on the back cover. It is one of the strengths of Alex T. Smith’s work that it can entertain both children and adult readers on different levels.
I think Foxy’s case of bad karma might also serve as a good message to young readers that you seldom get away with having behaving so badly towards people (or chickens!).
This is a fantastically entertaining story which will be a hit at storytime.
If you have not discovered Alex’s work yet, please take the time to discover his work . You can find him here and here. A new Claude Book, Claude on Holiday, is out later this year and watch out for the completely gorgeous ladybird Ella which will be follow in early 2012.
All illustrations Ó Alex T. Smith