Possum Magic: Children’s Literature

Possum Magic is a well-known Australian children’s picture book, which was originally written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Julie Vivas. Possum Magic was dedicated to Mem Fox’s daughter Chloë Fox. Another face that is not well know about Possum Magic is that it was originated as an assignment for a course in Children’s Literature. Is it still as popular as it was published in 1983 and as it approaches its 30th birthday?

Mem Fox the author of Possum Magic, was born in Melbourne, Australia un 1946. Although Fox was born in Australia, Fox left Australia at the age of six months for Zimbabwe because her parents were missionaries. While in Zimbabwe, Fox of course went to school. Fox was the only child in the school who didn’t have dark skin, she grew up a very differently to the way the Australian kids grew up and how they were educated. Fox eventually moved to London, so she could attend a drama school. While she was in England, in her later years she was married to a now retired French and drama teacher, Malcolm Fox. After about 12 years of being married to Malcolm, they both had their daughter Chloë. Chloë is now a politician; she is a Labor Party Member of Parliament.

There have been multiple interviews with Mem Fox, one being on a former popular kids show in Australia Rollercoaster. The interview was put on the website of the show, even though the show is cancelled. The interview is mainly questions that are sent in to the show and asked by the interviewer. She states that she had lots of support from her husband, supporting her all the way through her writing, with others supporting also. The interview also shows that while writing Possum Magic she was a student and the book was rejected 9 times in the space of 5 years. Fox also has her own website, showing her life story and any other information about her and her family.

What motivated you to write Possum Magic?
” I was studying at university as a mature age student and took a course in children’s literature and it was an assignment”

Did you have any idea Possum Magic would be an
Australian best-seller when you were writing it?

“Not at all. None of us did, neither the illustrators, the publishers, the book-sellers or me.”

The Possum Magic book is aimed at children who are beginning school or half was through primary school (ages from 5-7). I can tell this because I was either reading the book or I was being read to with this exact book between those ages. I have seen this book a fair amount as a child. It appeals to the children because it is well pretty much a picture book just with a few words on each page. It also has ‘cute’ talking animals and the presence of magic, making it a little more appealing for the readers. The words don’t take much attention away from the illustrations which keeps the children’s attention on the pictures while being read to. Plus the term “A picture is worth a thousand words” could be used in this situation.

This story is more suited for Australians seeming there are many Australian references, Vegemite sandwiches, Pavlova and Lamingtons. Those aren’t the only things that make this more suitable for Australians, the two possums travel around Australia. They went to Darwin, Sydney and many other Australian places. To make this story suitable for children, Mem Fox chose animals, possums. This would make the children more interested in it than if the story was about human adults or children.


One thought on “Possum Magic: Children’s Literature

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