Book of the Week: Possum Magic

June 7, 2011

Today’s book, called Possum Magic, was written by Mem Fox. It’s a happy story about a little possum who asks magical Grandma Possum to make her invisible. After enjoying the invisibility for awhile, Hush is ready to become visible again and they go on an adventure together to bring the visibility back. My kids are entranced with the story. And I can’t get enough of the gorgeous illustration by Julie Vivas.

Are you familiar with the work of Mem Fox? She’s an Australian author and many of her books feature creatures particular to Australia — like koalas and kangaroos. Our landlords left a big stack of books for our kids here at the farmhouse and among them, I was happy to spot several Mem Fox selections. Everything I’ve read by her is delightful! The first Mem Fox book we ever owned is Time for Bed — which is one of the all-time most wonderful night time books.

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{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

1 B. June 7, 2011 at 5:45 am

The book is wonderful. Possums trampoline across my roof and onto the verandah every night in the quest for my tomatoes. So far this year, the tomato stakes are Possums 15 Humans 1. They are crafty little creatures.
My other Mem Fox favourites are “Where is the Green Sheep?” (best suited to under 4 years) and Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge (best suited to around 4-8 years) (also illustrated by Julie Vivas).

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2 twirling betty June 7, 2011 at 5:57 am

Such an Australian classic. I also love the way it is peppered with classic Australian food. Minties and lamingtons anyone? And I agree with B. above, ‘Where is the Green Sheep’ is such a wonderful book for little ones. One of our family favourites.

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3 Design Mom June 8, 2011 at 2:35 am

Makes me want to visit Australia! I have no idea what minties and lamingtons are. : )

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4 Emily June 12, 2011 at 1:11 am

Minties are mint flavoured chewy lollies (candy), lamingtons are squares of light sponge cake, covered in thin chocolate icing then covered in coconut.

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5 Design Mom June 14, 2011 at 3:30 am

Good to know! Thanks for filling me in, Emily. They both sound super yummy.

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6 ClumberKim June 7, 2011 at 6:02 am

Mem Fox is such a treasure. Possum Magic, Koala Lou, The Magic Hat, and Where is the Green Sheep? are all favorites in our house. I also recommend Reading Magic for parents, and especially those about-to-be-parents. She makes the case for reading to children brilliantly.

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7 Anna June 7, 2011 at 6:38 am

We love Possum Magic! Our favorite Mem Fox is Koala Lou- I just love the phrase, “Koala Lou, I do love you!”

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8 Michelle B. June 7, 2011 at 6:51 am

I’m so excited to see this book! We got it from my hubby’s family in Australia and now I want the rest of her books! What a nice treat!

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9 Marta June 7, 2011 at 7:22 am

My son was given this book and he loves it. I love the story, and the illustrations are just amazing with so many little details. I’ll have a look at the other books you recommended. Thanks! Marta

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10 Amy June 7, 2011 at 7:36 am

This is one of our best loved books in our house (we actually have two hehe) along with Time for Bed. My kids love Hush and Granda Poss. You totally need to try Where is the Green Sheep. The illustrations and great and it keeps mum and dad entertained aswell. I am so excited Mem Fox is my favourite children’s author.

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11 Design Mom June 8, 2011 at 2:36 am

Where is the Green Sheep is getting so many recommendations. Sounds like I need to pick it up asap.

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12 se7en June 7, 2011 at 7:41 am

Oh Happy Day!!! We love the Possums and Koala Lou… I should kist say Mem Fox!!! Sheena Knowles and her Emu’s and Jackie French are brilliant for Australian story fun… You haven’t lived if you haven’t read The Diary of a Wombat by Jackie French!!!

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13 Kristen June 7, 2011 at 8:04 am

Oh we love Mem Fox at this house. I heard her do a reading once and fell in love with her even more.

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14 Holly brain June 7, 2011 at 8:13 am

Time for bed is one of our all time favorites, my kids love it so much I have it memorized. Julie vivas also has an amazing book called “the nativity”. You would love it!

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15 Kay June 7, 2011 at 8:17 am

Mem Fox reads her own audio books if you want to hear her beautiful voice. I also enjoyed her non-fiction book “Reading Magic”. It is a great gift for first time parents.

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16 Design Mom June 8, 2011 at 2:37 am

That’s so good to know, Kay! I love hearing authors read their own work.

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17 Heather June 7, 2011 at 8:30 am

I am a teacher and love all of Mem Fox’s books! The kids love them, too. She can do no wrong!

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18 Melissa@Julia's Bookbag June 7, 2011 at 8:31 am

Mem Fox is THE BEST! (How can someone with that awesome name NOT be the best??) I read ‘Time for Bed’ to Julia overandoverandoverandover her first 2 years of life. And Where is the Green Sheep is fab as well, we saw a production of it done at a local children’s theatre, it was so fun!! Can’t wait to read the Possum book, thanks for posting this!! xo, Melissa

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19 Design Mom June 8, 2011 at 2:37 am

It’s true! What an awesome name she has.

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20 Corinne June 7, 2011 at 9:03 am

A friend brought this back form Oz for my daughter last summer- We love it. I love the illustrations and the gentle rhythm. So magical. I always feel warm and fuzzy after reading it….that must be the possums ;)

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21 bdaiss June 7, 2011 at 9:42 am

Ooo! Going to have to pick this one up! We love Mem Fox – I still recite Time for Bed to both my kids nearly every night. (Sometimes the Boy requests Hush Little Baby by Sylvia Long – it’s a great “updated” version of the song.)

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22 stacy June 7, 2011 at 10:43 am

Mem Fox is a teacher favorite, too! Kudos to you for helping your kiddos choose authentic literature!

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23 Efrat June 7, 2011 at 10:47 am

What I love about children’s books is that the drawing are an amazing art, and in this book it looks like I can just go on and frame one.

Beautiful find!

Efrat

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24 Design Mom June 8, 2011 at 2:38 am

I agree, Efrat — definitely frameable.

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25 Lynne June 7, 2011 at 11:25 am

I became familiar with Mem Fox in a children’s literature class. Love her!

I really dislike possums, though. I see a lot of them in my part of the world (Ohio), and I find them invasive and creepy. No magic for me :-).

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26 Heather June 7, 2011 at 11:58 am

Love Mem Fox! I have read Time for Bed to my 2 yo son from birth! He also loves Where is the Green Sheep? And I highly rec Reading Magic to caregivers.

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27 Kathleen June 7, 2011 at 12:58 pm

We also get a huge kick out Mem Fox. This book you posted about is beautifully illustrated.
For any Where is the Green Sheep? fans, there’s a cuddly doll available from MerryMakers here: http://www.merrymakersinc.com/green_sheep.php?mtype=p

So much fun to read about your overseas adventures, Gabrielle! The best armchair travel ever if we can’t be there!

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28 Ali June 7, 2011 at 1:17 pm

I read Mem’s books to my children (now 27 and 24 years old) and now my 4 year old grandson! ‘Wilfred Gordon MacDonald Partridge’ is a must read as is ‘Night Noises’ and my daughter demanded ‘Goodnight Sleeptight’ every night before bed. I can still recite most of it nearly 20 years later! My grandson’s favourite is ‘There’s a Possum in the House’ (can recite that one too!). I guess this post has brought all the Aussies out to play!

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29 Design Mom June 8, 2011 at 2:39 am

I don’t think I’ve even heard of Wilfred Gordon MacDonald Partridge, but I think it might be my favorite book ever just from the name. : )

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30 kim June 7, 2011 at 1:52 pm

The casino with the lamingtons in the kitchen can be seen from my window, and is just down the road! I remember the librarian reading us this book in primary school, and my kids know this story backwards as well! Mem Fox is a national treasure – I’m so glad the Blair’s have found her.

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31 Bobbi June 7, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Love Time for Bed. I now read it to my grandchildren. I will have to get this one, too.

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32 Design Mom June 8, 2011 at 2:40 am

Time for Bed is such a sweet book!

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33 Sherri June 7, 2011 at 2:38 pm

I love this book! My husband is Australian so we have a lot of Mem Fox’s books. One of my favourites is Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge.

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34 tiffani June 7, 2011 at 4:43 pm

my oh my that book looks fantastic.

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35 Michelle June 7, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Lovely to see such a nice review of Possum Magic – as an Australian we own a good number of Mem Fox books. And I always buy ‘Where Is the Green Sheep’ for friends when they have a baby – they are never too young to be read to! It is the perfect book for an inttoduction to reading. :)

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36 Design Mom June 8, 2011 at 2:40 am

Sounds like a perfect baby gift.

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37 Rachel June 7, 2011 at 8:29 pm

I am a brand newbie to your blog. My 7 month old LOVES Mem Fox’s ‘Koala Lou’. He cracks up every time I read the line “Koala Lou, I DO love you!” I am in love because Koala Lou and Possum Magic were my most very favourite books as a young child too. Now, as Australians living in China, I get to share my culture with my little boy through her delightful books too! And Julie Vivas is an amazing illustrator! I love Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge as well!

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38 Rachel June 7, 2011 at 8:45 pm

PS to Lynne — Australian Possums are very, very different to American Possums. My hubby is American so I’ve seen both. Ours are cute and cuddly looking (although still a bit of a nuisance at times!).

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39 Design Mom June 8, 2011 at 2:42 am

Good to know, Rachel!

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40 Beth June 7, 2011 at 9:19 pm

We love Mem Fox! I think “Harriet, You’ll Drive Me Wild” was really writton about Britton. She thinks so, too.

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41 Joanie June 7, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Definitely bringing out some Aussie commenters! Where is the Green Sheep, Possum Magic (personal fave), Wilfred Gordon MacDonald Partridge, Hattie & the Fox and Shoes from Grandpa are already in our Aussie 1yo’s collection. I think her books are must-haves in every Aussie bookshelf and she’s such an advocate for reading to children right from birth. Wonderful!

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42 Michelle June 7, 2011 at 11:07 pm

Love Mem Fox, we use her books a lot in shared reading in 2nd grade! You should check out her book Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge and Koala Lou.

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43 Design Mom June 8, 2011 at 2:42 am

I love how many teachers have chimed in their approval. It’s great when you find a children’s book author that both kids and adults universally love.

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44 Callie June 8, 2011 at 2:43 am

Oh goodness, isn’t Mem so wonderful!! I am a displaced American living in Australia, and as a primary school teacher I discovered Mem Fox very soon after I moved. Possum Magic is my favourite, and it’s such a fun “Australian” gift to give to new babies in my family. Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes is so beautiful… June would love it! Here’s a hint…. if you go to her website http://www.memfox.net/welcome.html, you can listen to her read her own stories aloud! It’s so wonderful :) So glad you discovered her, I know you and your kids will appreciate the books for a lifetime!

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45 Design Mom June 8, 2011 at 2:53 am

That’s great to know, Callie! I’ll definitely check out her site.

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46 Susie June 8, 2011 at 9:26 pm

The first time I heard Mem speak at a writers and teachers conference I cried. She has such a passion for reading and writing and as you and your readers know it is infectious.
We love her books and the Green Sheep is up there with Possum Magic and a recent treasure Ten Little Fingers – a lovely one for little, little people.
Another Australian favourite is Alison Lester’s, Magic Beach. For families that love holidaying at the beach it is such a treat. Enjoy!

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47 Corina June 8, 2011 at 9:52 pm

Wow, you do have a lot of Australian readers… me included. You have reminded me to read our copy of Possum Magic to my girls…but it will make me hungry for a lamington (or 5). There aren’t many (any) lamingtons here in NJ.
If you haven’t already discovered her , another wonderful children’s author is Pamella Allen who is from New Zealand. My girls all love the wonderful rythmn and language of her stories..especially The Pear in the Pear Tree.. (“when John and Jane went out walking, they were busy talk talk talking”) and the silly Mr McGee.
http://www.penguin.com.au/contributors/24/pamela-allen/books
enjoy :-)

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48 Emily June 9, 2011 at 4:50 am

My daughter got Possum Magic for her 1st birthday last month. I actually cried reading it again after so many years. It was one of my favourites as a child and I so happy I get to share it with my baby now too.
We also love reading Diary Of A Wombat by Jackie French (I actually bought it cause it made me laugh so much) and all the Grug books by Ted Prior.

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49 Design Mom June 9, 2011 at 6:49 am

So sweet, Emily!

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50 Simone June 9, 2011 at 3:25 pm

As an Aussie who follows your blog in France from California I am thrilled you picked a Mem Fox classic as your book of the week. Wilfred Gordon MacDonald Partridge is one of her’s that you should defnintely check out – her most touching book (I think). As a mum of three little ones and a teacher I’m a bit of a picture book addict. My favourite by far is a Scottish writer, Julia Donaldson. Please check her books out (if you haven’t already). She is so clever and writes incredibly smart books for kids with pretty cool twists. Try The Snail and Whale, The Gruffalo, Tiddler, Where’s My Mum?
Thanks for spreading the word about great kids books!!!
And PS. If you ever get to try a lamington, try a jam filled one (YUMMO – thoughts of them are now making me homesick)

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51 Emily June 9, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Yes! Mem Fox is truly a genius when it comes to children’s literature. I saw her speak at a teacher’s conference and was amazed at a story she told about writing an entire book during a flight from Australia to the USA. Before the flight took off, she called her editor to say that she was finished writing books, during the flight she wrote a book, and then when she landed she called the editor again to say, “In fact, I’m not finished writing books, let me dictate a new one to you right now.” As was mentioned in the previous comments she has a beautiful voice.
I currently love reading “Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes” to my little ones right now.

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52 Lesley June 9, 2011 at 9:01 pm

Mem Fox is the most wonderful children’s author. Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge is just the loveliest story, and Hattie and the Fox I just about know off by heart! But Koala Lou is the all time favourite- “Koala Lou, I do love you. I always have and I always will.” Really, there isn’t a book of Mem’s that isn’t great. Glad you have found out about this iconic Australian author!

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53 Lizy b June 9, 2011 at 11:11 pm

Oh my goodness, we have this book. Our very dear family friends from Austrailia send books for holidays and birthdays and this has been one of our favorites.

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54 Katie June 10, 2011 at 2:23 pm

This was my very favourite book when I was a child. My family moved to Australia for a year when I was 3 and this book became a fixture in our house for the next 20 years. I love it. But I do not love vegemite. It always bothered me that she had to have a vegemite sandwich. Iwished she could have had something more delicious.

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55 Miri June 10, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Expecting my first in August and starting to build a library of books. What other authors do you read to your kids that you consider library essentials?

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56 Design Mom June 14, 2011 at 3:30 am

Hi Miri! I love children’s books. You can find many of my favorites under the “picture books” tab at the top. Congrats on your pregnancy!

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