Did you know that foxes have a fetish for shoes? That urban foxes can actually collect them and hoard them in their dens? When Carmel Bird, author across a wide array of genres, came across this fascinating morsel one day in her reading, it inspired her to craft a children’s story around it. Finola is an urban fox with an eye for a good shoe and a remarkable talent for pilfering them: ‘Silent as a snowflake and quick as a flash of lightning, Finola would snatch up a shoe, or a pair of shoes, pop them into her handbag and disappear into the shadows’. Her collection of shoes is so extensive – row upon row of them – she dreams of one day displaying them in her own gallery. But for now, Finola is on a mission. One of the shoes in her collection – of the green, jewelled and feathered variety, found in an alley one moonlit night – is missing its pair. In her quest to find a partner for this marvellous specimen, Finola finds herself on an adventure visiting all sorts of places and seeing every aspect of the city. She visits cafes and arcades, a fun park, a department store, the Art Gallery and even the Opera House. And along the way she finds some unexpected help.
This is a delightful story that young children will love. Finola is an endearing character whose adventure through the city will have this audience captivated. For children familiar with Sydney, there is much in the book they will recognise, for example Luna Park and the Botanic Gardens which provides a good basis for further exploration. And they will enjoy the repetition of travelling back again through the settings they have discovered with Finola during her quest. The book has an engaging storyline which includes a gratifying element of surprise at the end.
Kerry Argent’s illustrations work well with the text, adding charm and vibrancy, and infusing Finola with personality that is both captivating and cheeky. The illustrations bring humour and warmth to the story, as well as providing readers plenty to discover in the finer detail on subsequent returns.
The Fabulous Finola Fox has much going for it – a great read with plenty to engage the mind of a child and to provide entertainment for them and their adult alike. Recommended.