I’ve always loved this book for the sheer fact that it is so Australian. I mean, a book which mentions Vegemite sandwiches? A book which mentions possums eating Vegemite sandwiches? It doesn’t get much better than that. I have a jar of Vegemite in my cupboard and hear possums scurrying up trees at night. This book doesn’t deliberately play on Australian clichés of the bush, the outback and kangaroos. Possum Magic celebrates everything which in quintessentially Australian in a genuine way.
This book is Mem Fox’s most loved and most celebrated, both in Australia and overseas, and it is easy to see why. It is a story about love, and about protection, and Julie Vivas’ beautiful illustrations bring Grandma Poss and Hush’s world in the Australian bush to life. I have memories of reading this book at home with my parents, at school, and even by myself, experiencing Hush’s story over and over again.
Mem Fox is one of Australia’s most celebrated children’s writers, and it is easy to see why. Her books are full of energy, of love, of loss and even nonsense, when necessary. She has the ability to engage children and adults alike, which takes a lot of skill and care. I was lucky enough to hear her speak about her writing when she visited my university, and she is just as passionate and vibrant and full of energy in real life as she is in her books. She gave a reading at that talk, despite the fact she was speaking to a roomful of adults, or in spite of the fact she was talking to a roomful of adults. She read Where is the Green Sheep?, and kept turning up the nonsense and silliness of her reading to match the book with each page. She had a room of adults completely absorbed in her children’s book.
Possum Magic is my favourite Mem Fox book by a long way. There is something special about finding a book which speaks to you on so many different levels, and it is even more special when you find a book which does so when you are a child.
First published by Omnibus books (imprint of Scholastic), 1983
The cover image used here is from the 25th Anniversary Edition of the book, published 2008.