Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Advent Treat 1: The Tomten and the Fox... a book review

The Tomten and the Fox
Today's Advent drawer revealed a treat waiting in our Winter Books basket: a new book!  This was The Tomten and the Fox, by Astrid Lindgren [adapted from a poem by Viktor Rydberg].

We've had The Tomten for a while, and the children love it.  So they were quite excited to read this continuation of the Tomten's tale.

I sat down on the sofa and all four of them piled around me, ready to read.  

This is a stunning picturebook. Harald Wiberg's paintings illustrate Lindgren's prose once again.  The frosty Nordic winter depicted in the story comes alive on each page. Colours, predominately silvery grey, blue, and white convey the bitter cold of a snowy moonlit night in the far North.  

The text subtly snatches the reader's attention almost instantly.  A fox lives in the forest near the farm, and he is hungry.  "Now where can a hungry fox find something to eat?"

Oh no!  He's heading for the farm, as it lies in sleepy evening darkness.

He sees mice, but isn't interested.  He's looking for a much more substantial dinner, and makes tracks for... the henhouse!

The anticipation around me was palpable as we reached this point in the story.  The hens in the painting on the page were worried, the children were concerned as they hung onto every word.  Even my nine-year-old Lord of the Rings fans sat in silence, listening to this simple book!

But of course, all turns out well.  The Tomten, in a gentle peace offering, gives the Fox a share of the porridge that the farm children leave out for him every evening.  

After the book's happy, calming finish, we talked about the Tomten's kindness to the Fox, and how his sharing attitude protected the farm.

Coo loved it so much that Daddy had to read both books to her all over again.

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