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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

The Fire Fox by Esther Remnant and Mike Gwyther

What can change in a single night? Everything. A young boy is visited by an enigmatic creature with a beautiful secret one night. Together they explore the playfulness, mystery, and danger, of nature, before the majestic creature reveals their true self.

The Fire Fox is a modern retelling of a classic European folktale based around the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis. In Finnish mythology, an arctic fox creates the lights by casting snow skywards with the sweeping of its tail.

It is this story that The Fire Fox riffs off, using an original series of linocut prints to tell the story.

Created by artist Nester Prints (Esther Remnant), the book is largely monochromatic. The bold black and white prints are complemented with pops of simple colour, making it an incredibly visually appealing story.

Using the prints, the book was then co-authored in collaboration with Mike Gwyther. The pair use evocative and emotive language to bring the story to life, making it a delight to both the eyes and ears.

It is a lovely book to read aloud to children at bedtime. It has just the right amount of mischievousness, danger and delight. The illustrations are calming, yet full of mystery that begs you to linger on each page just a little longer.

While it is in no way a reflection on this gorgeous book, or the talented creators, I was left a little sad that it was based on the Northern Lights. The Finnish myth is beautiful, and obviously inspired Remnant's artwork, but there's a real opportunity just begging for the same treatment. Living in Otago, the Southern Lights or Aurora Australis, lights up our skies. I'd love to add a book about Tahu-nui-a-rangi to our bookshelves. I hope an artist with the whakapapa and mana to tell that story is inspired by The Fire Fox.

The Fire Fox is a magical story of friendship and of the joy and freedom of childhood based around one of nature's most spectacular sights.

Reviewed by Rebekah Lyell

The Copy Press, RRP $20.00


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