‘Once upon a time, although this happens all the time, a tiny star fell to earth and turned into a baby!’
And so, begins the stunningly illustrated and poignant new book from children’s story book legends Mem Fox and illustrator Freya Blackwood.
When a baby falls to earth it is embraced by parents, family and the community it lives in, it’s wrapped in a swaddling cloth covered in stars and everyone thinks the baby is beautiful and it is. But the baby is constantly changing and growing into a child, an adult and parent, a grandparent and beyond.
Mem Fox uses the star to start the story and to link the various stages of the child’s life cycle. Written for grandparents to share with their grandchildren, this story was inspired by Mem Fox’s own grandson. When she became a grandparent, she was overwhelmed and moved and she began to worry about what would happen if she died. This story that explains life and death was born out of her desire to comfort her grandson when she is gone.
The illustrations from Freya Blackwood, all muted blues, greys and beiges are exquisite. Warm images of families, communities, sharing, playing and growing greatly enhance the message and while the story is deeply moving it is also a great way to bring comfort and understanding for any child experiencing the loss of a grandparent.
As Mem Fox said, Blackwood has beautifully painted the emotions and added to the grief and the happiness. She is clearly an animal lover and has filled the book with animals – including a possum for Mem Fox. The pages are also filled with lots of children that you can follow through the book as they grow.
This is a carefully considered work, one that took Mem Fox six years on and off to write and the magic of her stories continues to have great appeal to children and parents alike. Many parents and grandparents have posted a note of thanks on our Facebook page to Mem Fox for writing a story about the end of life as they were unable to find something like this when they needed it most.
The combination of her carefully considered words, the rhythm, and the illustrations all make this a book that will undoubtedly be around for as long as Possum Magic.
Mem Fox has written over 38 books for adults and children including Possum Magic, which has sold over three million copies and is the bestselling picture book ever in Australia. Mem has been presented with many awards including an AM in the 1993 Australia Day Honours for services to the cultural life of Australia; an SA Great Award for Literature in 2001; the Prime Minister’s Centenary Medal in 2003; and she was shortlisted for the Australian of the Year in 2004. She worked as an Associate Professor of Literacy Studies in the School of Education at Flinders University, South Australia for twenty-four years and is now an international literacy consultant.
Mem’s books with Penguin include Where is the Green Sheep? Hunwick’s Egg, A Particular Cow, Where The Giant Sleeps, Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, Hello Baby! The Goblin and the Empty Chair, A Giraffe in the Bath and most recently Baby Bedtime. She lives in Adelaide, Australia.
Freya Blackwood is one of Australia’s most admired children’s illustrators today. Her stunning and iconic illustrations perfectly capture the warmth and complexity of growing up. While warm and classic, her style has a unique quality that renders her work instantly recognisable. The pathos of her characters is a joy to behold, and her work has deservedly captured international attention and a swag of awards and nominations. These include the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal (2010), which is the UK’s most prestigious award for children’s illustration, and the CBCA Picture Book of the Year Award – Early Childhood (2007).
Her most recent books are Maudie and Bear (2010), Harry and Hopper (2009), Her Mother’s Face (2009) and Amy and Louis (2006). The Treasure Box is Freya’s first book with Penguin Australia. Freya lives in Orange, NSW, with her daughter, Ivy.