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The Sorry Tale of Fox and Bear (Margrete Lamond & Heather Vallance, Dirt Lane Press)

Bear and Fox have a tumultuous friendship, marred by Fox’s pranks and mean tricks. However, when Fox disappears, Bear finds he misses his buddy. New companions Rooster and Hare seem to want to be his friends, but their words don’t match their actions, and Bear comes to the realisation that despite the problems in their relationship, Fox was not nasty at heart, even when his tricks hurt Bear’s feelings. This 72-page illustrated narrative book is a beautifully presented object, with a stunning hardcover finish; thick, high-quality pages that are perfect for smaller hands; and evocative pencil-drawn artwork. While the text dominates many pages, there is a good balance of white space and images, inviting less confident readers to engage with the book. The language and structure of the story mimics the style of Aesop’s fables, and its themes are suitable for an audience aged six and up, although the vocabulary and structure could make it challenging for younger readers. Reading along with an adult is recommended as Bear’s narration of the story makes it difficult to judge whether the friendship between the pair is healthy, and the text requires adult sophistication to interpret the issues within the relationship and to consider what positive friendships should look like.

Tehani Wessely is an academic, publisher and literary awards judge


Category: Junior newsletter Review list Reviews