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Mem Fox has written over 20 children’s picture books. She is considered Australia’s most popular children’s author.

Jill Brelan says, “Mem Fox is a true storyteller. Her books feature Australian settings and characters, and are noted for using rhythm and rhyme, and repetition to present young readers with such themes as the importance of memories and the power of love”.

 

Biographical Information

• Born March 1946 in Melbourne Australia
• At the young age of 6 months her family moved to Africa and lived at the Hope Foundation Mission in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. (her parents were missionaries)
• Her father’s name is Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge. (Sound familiar? Title of her second book)
• She learned to write by drawing her letters in the red earth, she graduated to writing on slates. She now writes using a computer.
• 1960 she moves to London, England to study drama
• 1969 met and married Malcolm
• 1971 daughter Chloe was born (Possum Magic is dedicated to her)
• 1983 Possum Magic is published after being rejected 9 times. It was the best-selling children’s book in Australia selling half a million copies world wide.
• She loves writing, but her first love is teaching.
• 1996 retired from teaching at Flinders University in South Australia after 24 years in the School of Education.

I hope that more often than not I do succeed in writing the literature of liberation: liberation from the tyranny of the attitudes and expectations that the world thrusts upon each of us."
Mem Fox

Fox, Mem. Feathers and Fools.
I hope that more often than not I do succeed in writing the literature of liberation: liberation from the tyranny of the attitudes and expectations that the world thrusts upon each of us."
Fox, Mem. Whoever You Are. New York: Harcourt. 2001. ISBN 0152164065.

Little one,
Whoever you are,
Wherever you are,
There are little ones just like you,
All over the world.
Their skin may be different from yours
And their homes may be different from yours;
Their schools may be different from yours

Fox, Mem. Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge.
A touching tale of a boy and his elderly friend, the book explores the nature of memory itself in a way that children can understand.

Fox, Mem. Koala Lou. New York: Harcourt. 1988. ISBN 0152005021.
"There was once a baby koala, so soft and round that all who saw her loved her. Her name was Koala Lou. The emu loved her. The platypus loved her. And even tough little Koala Klaws next door loved her. But it was her mother who loved her most of all . . . "
Koala Lou is well-loved by everyone, especially her mother. But as the family grows, Koala Lou’s mother gets too busy to give her the attention that she craves. Koala Lou sets out to win the Bush Olympics in order to get her mother’s attention.

Fox, Mem. Sleeping Bears. New York: Harcourt. 1999. ISBN 0152020160.

Mama Bear lulls her six little cubs to sleep for winter with a personalized rhyme for each.

Fox, Mem. Sophie. New York: Harcourt. 1994. ISBN 0152771603.
Through fox’s text and Robinson’s illustration the reader hears and sees the love between grandfather and granddaughter. Grandpa is there the day Sophie is born. As Sophie grows, her grandpa declines until one day grandpa is no longer with Sophie. Once again Fox explains the circle of life to children in term that they can understand.

Fox, Mem. Possum Magic. New York: Harcourt. ISBN 0152632247.
This book is a wonderful example of a child's wonder at new experiences. The characters go on a journey to discover the lessons of life. This story shows how you should always work on a problem until you find a suitable solution. The pictures of the Australian animals are magic, and simple writing means the kids will be repeating it along with you after one or two readings. This would be a great bedtime reading book for littlies and grown-ups to share.

Fox, Mem. The Magic Hat. New York: Harcourt. 2002. ISBN 0152010254.
"Oh, the magic hat, the magic hat! It moved like this, it moved like that!..." as the hat travels on its way to a new head. Fox’s engaging, rhyming text is full of energy, rhythm, and motion, and little ones will enjoy helping you read the repetitive lines

Fox, Mem. Wombat Divine. New York: Harcourt. 1995. ISBN 0152014160.
"Wombat loved Christmas. He loved the carols and the candles, the presents and the pudding, but most of all he loved the bush Nativity play. For as long as he could remember Wombat had wanted to be in the Nativity. Now at last he was old enough to take part . . . "
It has a sing-songy verse, adorable illustrations, and a beautiful story-line that is just not your "standard" Christmas story. Poor Wombat desperately wants to be a part of the Nativity play, but there is just no part he is suited for - except - the most important part of all!

Fox, Mem. Night Noises. New York: Harcourt. 1992. ISBN 0152574212.
As Lily dozes by the fire, she dreams of how her life has changed over the years. It is also a delightful way to assure young children that though family members and neighbors may be old and seem very different, they have lived a life very similar. In our society, often the elderly are portrayed as a burden and not a blessing.

Analysis

Fox, Mem. Feathers and Fools. 2000. New York: Harcourt. 0152023658

Feathers and Fools a beautifully written and illustrated picture book that can be used to discuss conflict with any age group. A group of peacocks lives near a lake of swans. The two groups are living peaceful side by side until one peacock notices how different swans are from peacocks. The peacock goes back to the lake and tells the other peacock that they should fear the swans, because one-day swans could overpower them. The peacocks begin to fear for their safety and arm themselves with sharpened feathers. The swans notice the peacocks arming themselves for battle and make their own weapons. One day an innocent swan flying over the peacocks’ lake drops a reed that he was planning to build his nest with. An innocent action set off the war between the peacocks and the swans. The two groups fight till neither side has a survivor. In the end a new swan and new peacock hatch from eggs, they embrace their similarities, and become friends.

Nicholas Wilton beautiful illustrations are strong vibrant block prints that bring visual life to fox’s poetic words against war.

Fox, Mem. Sophie. New York: Harcourt. 1994 ISBN 0152771603

Sophie is a beautiful story about love, family, life and death. In very few words Fox tells the story of a relationship between a grandfather and granddaughter over a span of years. Fox beings the story, “Once there was no Sophie. And then there was.” Robinson strong illustrations tell a story of family love that visualizes emotions that Fox has left the reader to feel. In all of the illustrations Robinson has focused on the hand of the many members of Sophie’s family. When Sophie is born her hands are young and small, grandpa’s hands are old but still strong, “As Sophie grew and grew”, she is slowly growing larger and grandpa is growing smaller. Sophie’s hands are slowly growing bigger and stronger; grandpa’s hands are growing smaller and weaker. Until the day that grandpa is no more and Sophie is sad, till she has a child of her own. The story and illustrations together tell the story of the circle of life, you are born, live, love, and die, a topic that explored in
many of her books.

“Feathers and Fools” and “Sophie”

I have been a pacifist since infancy. I must have been fed pacifism and anti-racism with my mother's milk.
Mem Fox

“Feathers and Fools” and “Sophie” are exemplary example of Mem Fox’s ability to weave a story that’s core is to teach children racial and ethical tolerance. ‘Feathers and Fools” address Fox’s anti-war views in language that can be used in a primary classroom handling conflict between two students, or with high school students learning why a government has decided to declare war against another country.

In a speech Fox delivered at a huge anti-war rally in Adelaide, Australia February 16th 2003 she sad this about war, “As a writer of stories I ask myself what story we would like to tell to our children. How about a story of two kingdoms who so fear and hate each other that they're about to wipe each other out? Instead of killing each other, they have a stunningly intelligent and creative idea: they sit down together. They say to each other: 'Life is precious. Let us avoid death. After all, we are brothers. Why do you fear us? How can we stop you from hating us? How can we make peace? Shake my hand. Come, let's talk.”

Her second passion is writing about the value of life of our senior citizens. In earlier books she has dealt with the sensitive topic of grandparents living in nursing homes, and losing their memories. In Sophie, Fox tells the story of a family’s love, support, and the death of a family member. She writes about many topics that are taboo in our society. Topics that parents seek out children’s books to sad and joyful event in their lives. Her writing style helps children understand the death of a grandparent or why we at war with another country.
In both Book’s Fox tells stories that revolve around very sensitive topics, but handled in language and illustrations that young children will understand.


Activities
Fox, Mem. Hattie and the Fox. New York: Harcourt.
• Before reading the book take the children on a picture walk where they will predict the event in the story.
• Have children pick out the part of the story that are fictional and real.
• Make hand puppets and have the children act out the story.

Fox, Mem. Koala Lou. New York: Harcourt. 1988.
• Students can choose and animal from the story to research where and how it lives in Australia.

Fox, Mem. Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge.
Writing About My Bag of memories

Websites

MemFox
First Grade Author Study
Lesson Plan on Australia using Mem Fox’s books