Hattie and the fox by Mem Fox and Patricia Mullins
Scholastic, 2011. ISBN 978 1 74169 8206.
(Ages 4+) Highly recommended. A reprint of this classic story will have toenails curling all over Australia as a new generation of children follow Hattie's attempts to warn her fellow barnyard creatures of the impending attack by a fox. Each page is wonderful as the group of animals respond in the same way to Hattie's fears, pulling the reader into predicting what will happen on each subsequent page and eventually singing along with the refrains.
The humour in the story of the disinterested farmyard animals is reflected in the stunning illustrations, in which Mullins has used torn paper to create a visual splash of colour and line. A lovely touch to watch out for is the change in pace of the illustrations from the dreamy animals at the start to the frightened animals moving quickly to escape on the last few pages as the fox attacks. And I loved Hattie's concern for her fellow animals, despite their disdain, with her looking around and warning them, until finally she is resting in her chookhouse, her lookout work completed.
I heard Mem Fox read this aloud to an audience of children and adults at a Premier's Reading Challenge reception, and was thrilled to see the adults so engrossed. This makes a wonderful read-a-loud book.