Wednesday, March 24, 2010

VINTAGE FIND: Roger and the Fox

Lavinia R. Davis was an American author specialising in children's stories and teen novels (as well as a number of adult mysteries). She wrote predominantly in the 1940's to 1950's (40+ books in all) with 2 of her children's stories winning the Caldecott Medal Honor for their illustrations.

One of those award winning books was "Roger and The Fox", illustrated by Hildegard Woodward and published in 1947.

As you can imagine, this book is right up my alley, but the added bonus is that Roger is Pops' name. Isn't it weird how sometimes you can find something that is just too perfect for words? Well, someone else obviously thought so as I imagine this original copy was a gift to him, and I discovered it in his study yesterday.

The story line is as follows...Roger is a six year old boy whose family have moved to the countryside of Connecticut to run a farm. He is referred to as a "city boy" and hates it. Roger is fascinated with the wildlife he is discovering in his new surroundings and when Seth (his father's farm hand) tells him he saw a fox, he is a boy on a mission.

Woodward's illustrations are so beautifully subtle and paired down, using a palate of black graphite with red and blue watercolour to depict Roger's fox tracking adventures through the Fall and Winter seasons. There is a perfect description of walking through leaves in the Fall as making a “fine, dry, corn-popping, pie-eating, cider-drinking, fall sound”. Davis' descriptive language is punchy and captivating.

Once Roger masters the art of skiing, he discovers that he can move around silently, and that way eventually manages to sneak up on the fox and to his delight, and immense pride, he sees TWO!

You can just see the satisfaction he gets from telling Seth! Completely delightful in every way!

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