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The Woods by Rob Hodgson

A trio of foxes live in the woods and so begins a cat and mouse (or should that be fox and rabbit) story with a not-so-fluffy twist.

From the author of The Cave, this book is a terrifically funny story about some foxes hunting for their favourite snack – rabbits. While they follow some helpful signs over the tallest trees, through the pumpkin patch and under the carrot field, there’s no sign of any fluffy bunnies. But what are the strange eyes following them through the trees?

The Woods is not a book that I immediately found any value from – there’s no loud and proud moral, no small pearl of wisdom children will take away from it.

It will definitely not be everyone’s cup of tea. Adult’s might initially write it off because it is different to other children’s books due to the lack of a moral or a bigger lesson. As adult readers of the story, we need to be careful not to ruin a child’s delight, even if it doesn’t immediately appeal to us.

There’s also a single word on the very final page that some readers will have difficulty with (it’s the albeist slur ‘stupid’ and it could have been so easily substituted for something more appropriate.).

Regardless though, it goes to show that sometimes just a simple, funny story is still worthy and appreciated.

The story is hilariously funny for its audience, and it instantly has become an absolute favourite in our house. To the point where the book (and some puppets we’ve made of the characters) get touted around with us at all times, ready for an impromptu retelling for anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure yet of reading the book.

The magic of seeing pre-schoolers so engaged and enamoured with a book is a precious moment indeed.

Author Rob Hodgson has perfectly pitched the humour in this book for his audience, and created the illustrations to match it.

Each character, both foxes and bunnies, have distinct personalities and characteristics. Hodgson has packed his illustrations with lots of detail and clever components – the fox’s tail on fire and the worm hidden on page are two favourites. The book itself becomes something of a treasure hunt, putting the reader one step ahead of the foxes at all times.

A simple, effective story about the hunters becoming the hunted that will appeal to younger readers immensely.

Reviewer: Rebekah Fraser

Allen & Unwin, RRP $24.99


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