THIS & THAT by Mem Fox
Published by Scholastic Australia
This & That is a picture book for those who love to create their own story with a pre-school reader, and for pre-school readers who love to create stories.
Judy Horacek’s provocative illustrations are loaded with enticing elements designed to inspire readers to imagine their own narrative. Mem Fox vacates the author space for the young reader; her text is pared down and masterfully suggestive, inviting young readers to find their own voice.
The nonlinear narrative and deliciously clever illustrations suggest entire reading sessions around a single page, rather than reading the complete book in one sitting. This is not so much a ‘read aloud’ book but rather a ‘write together’ book.
THIS & THAT is ideal for children with a creative appetite who love to interpret their own stories. Adult readers who delight in making up stories will enjoy using the visual prompts as a tool for sharing the experience with their little co-authors.
The diversity of the illustrations means that each turn of the page offers a fresh story opportunity, encouraging readers to pause and explore its many possibilities before moving on. There is some subtle continuity as well, adding the flexibility to extend the imagined plot to the end of the book.
Adult readers note that this is not a passive book. It requires some coaxing and prompting on your part to help build the world inside the child’s mind. They’ll need some guidance to develop ideas from visual prompt to story idea, middle and end. Some illustrations will resonate more than others. Some will be skipped over and some will spark a fire. And next week it will all change.
Because the stories live inside the reader’s young mind, each time the book is ‘read’, the story will be completely new and that makes it exciting. Unlike text based picture books that may be learned by rote, this book will always be fresh, making it a great value, especially for finicky readers.
This is a book for fort builders, storytellers and funny voice aficionados.
CKT Book Reviewer
Author: Mem Fox
Illustrator: Judy Horacek
Title: THIS & THAT
Publisher: Scholastic Australia
Published: October 2015