13th October 2016
Who is Fitzy Fox?
Written by Amelia Trompf
Released: September 2016
Book title: Who is Fitzy Fox?
Author: Amelia Trompf
Illustrator: Jennifer Bruce
RRP: $24.95 HC, $14.95 PB
Age Range: 4-8
Tell us about yourself.
I am a Melbourne-based children’s author and a primary school & language teacher. At the moment, I teach part-time at a community centre and I spend the rest of my time with my young son who luckily loves reading as much as I do. We spend many hours at the local libraries reading books together.
I would also like to tell you about Jennifer Bruce, the talented artist who brought Fitzy Fox to life. Jennifer grew up in Dunblane in Scotland and Who is Fitzy Fox? is the first book she has illustrated. This book has been a very special collaboration and working with Jennifer has been such a pleasure.
What is your book about?
Who is Fitzy Fox? is about a small furry animal going through a big identity crisis – some people call him Foxy, while others call him Fitzy. He’s not sure whether he is a fox or a dog! Accordingly, Fitzy Fox sets off on a classic journey of existential discovery, which takes him all over Melbourne and across the world to London (just for the day). The story is not only about a search for identity, but also the uniqueness of each individual and being valued for who we are. It’s about having the courage to identify and solve a problem and being willing to go to extraordinary lengths to do so.
Who is your target audience for this book?
Who is Fitzy Fox? is suitable for 4 -8 year olds. However, I think both children and parents will enjoy the story’s humour and the serious messages about identity, acceptance, individuality and unconditional love. It is also an excellent resource for schools. With my background in teaching, I have designed Who is Fitzy Fox? English and Maths lessons and also a Social and Emotional Learning Package, which are all available on the Fitzy Fox website www.fitzyfox.com. Set in Melbourne, the book would make a lovely gift for tourists to take home with them and I also think Prince George might appreciate this book as he features on page 16!
What aspects did you find challenging about this book?
In my case, doing my own marketing has been one of the most challenging aspects. When it comes to teaching, I feel very confident in the classroom but the world of marketing and selling is very new to me. Over the last six months I have been researching and working hard to learn as much as I can and actually it has been great to have a new challenge.
Is there anything personal in the message of this story?
I wrote Who is Fitzy Fox? at a time when I had just moved to Scotland for my husband’s work. I didn’t have a work visa and while at first I was excited about having some time off, I realised that I missed the structure of work as well as the daily feedback and engagement. Furthermore, I wasn’t earning money and I think I fell into a bit of a slump of feeling low and thinking about my identity without a career and what made me, me. Subconsciously this story came out. At the time I didn’t see any connection but on reflection I think there was a bit of me in Fitzy Fox trying to work out who I was. The bit where the mummy gives Fitzy Fox a cuddle and explains the meaning of his name is a special part of the book for me too because there is just something about the comfort of a parent telling you everything is alright and tucking you into bed – even at forty years old!
How did the idea for this book come about?
Everyday from my bedroom window in Edinburgh, the Number 5 bus would go past and plastered on the side of the bus was a picture of the beloved Scottish picture book character, Maisie of Morningside (Morningside being a suburb in Edinburgh and Maisie being a little Scottish cat). Every time I saw it, I would think, I want to write a book that Melbournian children and parents adore just like the Scottish people treasure Maisie. I wanted to write a story that became the fabric of Melbourne - a story so important that it has its own bus! Fitzroy being my home suburb was a natural choice and with alliteration in mind, I created the character Fitzy Fox.
However, I also wanted to write a story that connects with children on a deeper level, regardless of where they live. Having a sense of belonging and feeling connected is integral to human existence and so I wanted to explore these universal themes. Fitzy Fox’s journey enables him to come to understand who he is and find confidence himself – a message I wanted to share with all children.
Author - Amelia Trompf
Illustrator - Jennifer Bruce