Add Mem Fox’s This & That to your bedtime routine

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THIS & THAT by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek, Scholastic Press, Jan. 31, 2017, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 3-5)

There’s a fine art to picture book writing. As an author, you have to provide enough of a story to tell, but that story has to serve as a framework for something more.

When you first look at This & That written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Judy Horacek, you see a sweet picture book about two mice that set out on an adventure through cavernous caves and magical castles. But if you take a moment to look more closely, you see much more.

Fox’s rhythmic and repeating text is at once inviting and interesting. But if you look at her text alone, you realize she never once mentions mice. The main characters of her book are never defined.

I’ll tell you a story of this, and I’ll tell you a story of that.
I’ll tell you a story of cavernous caves and a chimp with a magical hat.
And then…
I’ll tell you a story of this, and I’ll tell you a story of that.

The text continues in this pattern throughout.

If you look at Horacek’s illustrations without the text, you see two cute mice in interesting places, but the context is missing.

Only when the text and illustrations come together does This & That reach its full potential. And it has great potential. My first reading of This & That was with my daughter. I usually read books through at least once before sitting down with her so that I don’t get tripped up, but in this case, that was a nonissue.

My almost 3-year-old loves the bright illustrations. After one reading she was already repeating the main line with me, and the “hidden” nature of the mice gave her an immediate interactive feel.

This and That has already made it into our bedtime rotation, and I expect it to remain for some time.

© 2017, Cracking the Cover. All rights reserved.

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About Author

Jessica Harrison is the main reviewer behind Cracking the Cover. Prior to creating Cracking the Cover, Jessica worked as the in-house book critic for the Deseret News, a daily newspaper in Salt Lake City. Jessica also worked as a copy editor and general features writer for the paper. Following that, Jessica spent two years with an international company as a social media specialist. She is currently a freelance writer/editor. She is passionate about reading and giving people the tools to make informed decisions in their own book choices.

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