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Friday, 24 June 2011

Rosie's Walk: Picture book perfection

Rosie's Walk, by Pat Hutchins. The Bodley Head, 1968.
Our edition, Red Fox, Random House Children's Books, 2009.

Rosie's Walk is, simply put, picture book perfection.

A single, plain, thirty-two word sentence sewn together with seven prepositions, tells us of a routine walk of a hen from her coop, across the yard, around the pond, over the haycock, past the mill, through the fence, under the beehives and back to her coop.  But combined with the illustrations? We get a whole other, rather more eventful story of the misfortunes of a very hungry fox who is chasing the oblivious hen on her routine walk and managing to get himself into one silly pickle after another.

We bought it for our son recently and he burst out laughing with every scene where the fox 'gets it' from the very first time we read it. A wonderfully silly giggly book, with loud laughter guaranteed.

The illustrations
Pat Hutchins' pen and ink drawings in Rosie's Walk are delightful compositions made up of intricate geometric patterns in different shades of orange, green and yellow.

Look at the fox's fur in this close-up (!):

The story opens with a double page spread showing the whole farm scene or obstacle course, depending on whose point of view you take:

And we are then taken on a visual tour around the farm with Rosie leading, the desperate fox following and us watching it all.

Here, the fox has almost caught up with Rosie:

But look what's in store for him!:

Voilà one of our son's favourite scenes:

And here's Rosie coming to the end of her walk, with the fox in the distance, running from the bees:

Between, behind and beside the two-dimensional slapstick scenes, there are plenty of little details in the form of flowers, insects and other wildlife, including a wonderful onlooking goat, a rabbit, a snail, two toads who seem keen to be part of the action, a couple of mice, a beaver, a couple of grasshoppers and plenty of bees!

Reading it out loud
This book is more about sharing out loud than strictly reading out loud, as the text is kept to an absolute minimum. It's perfect for pointing things out, laughing and shouting out to the unaware hen. 'Watch out!' Plus, all the little details in every drawing make for plenty of conversation.

We haven't provided a recording for this one because every time we read it, we do it so differently!

What we like about it
I love that the story is absolutely no fun without the illustrations, but hilarious with them.

I like how it very cleverly and simply introduces the sophisticated idea of different perspectives (the hen, the fox, the reader).

(c) of all the illustrations in this post, Pat Hutchins, 1968. 

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