Hector Fox and the Giant Quest
I have been teaching preschool for thirty-five years. I’m the guru of picture books at school. Frankly I’m picky, and I know a good book when I read one. Hector Fox and the Giant Quest by Astrid Sheckels is outstanding, so good that I purchased it for myself in 2016. Here is what sets this book above the rest:
The illustrations are simply stunning and rich in detail. Every page draws the reader into the story. Astrid’s rendition of each animal, the forest, and Hector’s house is remarkable.
The animals in the story are familiar and also unfamiliar, giving children the comfort of what they know, and curiosity to learn something new. How many children know of a marten? None in my classroom. Instead of making the animals all one size, Astrid purposely gives them correct proportions – and it works!
E.B. White said to never write down to children. The book uses “big words”, such as quest, marsh, merry band, wary, hearty, and more. When I begin to read the book, first reading the title, I talk about the word quest, and ask the children what it means. Then we look at the cover and talk about a quest in the woods, and what that might be. It takes me ten minutes, and the children are eager and curious before I have read the first page.
The story flows. It is exciting! Children are drawn to adventure, and they always like animal stories. Fairy tales have withstood the test of time for those exact reasons. This book does the same thing and has all the makings of a fairy tale – I think not a coincidence that the book is centered on Hector’s book of fairy tales. The elements of friendship, family, bravery, and working together are pieces that are important, and also what children want to hear.
Bottom line – Children love the book! That’s the true test.
I for one am very eagerly looking forward to the next Hector Fox adventure. I rarely purchase a book for myself, and I’ll purchase a new Hector Fox book in a heartbeat. Really.