Fox, Mem

Early One Morning

(2) PS Illustrated by Christine Davenier. Fox (Where Is the Green Sheep?, rev. 5/04; Ducks Away!, rev. 1/18) delivers another impeccably paced book, hitting every beat and every page-turn perfectly. A little boy sets off from a farmhouse "in search of a couple of things for his breakfast." A jaunty chicken follows the boy's movement around the farm, looking very curious and sometimes even imitating his motions. Davenier uses pen-and-ink washes to inject movement and gentle humor into each illustration, as the boy investigates a gate, a truck, a tractor, a haystack, a cow, and more. At each investigation, the boy moves on ("He came to a gate...but gates don't lay them"; "He came to a truck...but trucks don't lay them"). Davenier surrounds her images with lots of white space, situating the various objects and animals in a soft-green hilly landscape. Fox never names what the boy is looking for, instead saying, in direct-address text, "Well, YOU knew all along," as he returns to the farmhouse with a brown egg in each hand. The final page shows him happily eating his breakfast at last. Fox and Davenier seem exactly in sync, creating a picture book that allows children to both enjoy and tell for themselves the warm and funny story.


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