Zanni Louise (text) and Anna Pignataro (illustrator), Florence and Fox, Walker Books, May 2021, 32 pp., RRP $25.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781760651350
From well-known creators Zanni Louise and Anna Pignataro, Florence and Fox is a charming story about friendship, sharing and growing. Ideal for pre-schoolers who are still learning about social norms and boundaries, this is one that should be read more than once.
Florence, a determined and busy crocodile, is building when her friend, Fox, innocently picks up a hammer to join in. Florence informs Fox that “Today is not Sharing Day”, and so he can’t use the hammer. The reader feels Fox’s naivety as he asks about when Sharing Day might actually be, only to get a disappointing answer. Later as they play, Fox becomes very confused about the rules of Sharing Day. Florence seems to be able to borrow from Fox, but Fox cannot borrow from Florence.
Zanni Louise has written a story that very young children will understand because both of the main characters think like them. Everyone goes through times when they want to be a borrower and feel disappointment when they are rejected. Everyone also experiences situations when they don’t want to be a sharer, but maybe still want to be a borrower. We all know what unbalanced friendships feel like and we often lack the skills to know what to do about them. Fortunately, in this book, kids see one way a lopsided friendship can be put back into balance.
Anna Pignataro’s pastel toned illustrations have a deliberately unrefined feeling. They give the reader a real sense of the developmental stage the main characters are currently in. There are clever touches, like not showing the mother’s face, which helps us stay concentrated on the real action of the story, which is between Florence and Fox.
A great book to begin a discussion about sharing, friendship, kindness and treating others the way we want to be treated, this would be ideal for kindergartens and preschool centres.
Reviewed by Cherie Bell