Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes
Viking, $24.95 hb, 40 pp
While the children’s picture book is a relatively recent literary phenomenon, most picture book authors still tap into the strong traditions of oral storytelling. Multi-award winning author Mem Fox is particularly good at this. Fox’s picture book texts are firmly grounded in the three R’s – the traditional rhythms, rhymes and repetitions found in children’s songs and verses throughout the ages. This, combined with Judy Horacek’s inspired illustrations, was what made Where is the Green Sheep? (2004) such a success.
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes (Viking, $24.95 hb, 40 pp, 9780670072392), illustrated by renowned picture book artist Helen Oxenbury, is one of Fox’s best yet. Fox’s economical text is cleverly structured to engage young children in an entertaining and interactive language experience. At the same time, it gently teaches them that every child, no matter what colour, creed or country of origin, shares the same basic things – ten little fingers, ten little toes and someone who loves them. The rhyming text rolls off the tongue, and the refrain is sure to have children joining in enthusiastically. Fox says that the text, written in one sitting on an international flight, was inspired by the ‘simply irresistible’ chubby fingers of babies, and that she wanted to emphasise people’s similarities rather than their differences.