Mem Fox, author of Possum Magic - Australia's Best Children Book Author

Mem Fox in 2008
Mem Fox in 2008 | Source

I bought a children's picture story book some 15 years ago when our eldest child was just starting out at Primary School and was beginning to learn to read. That book was titled 'Possum Magic'.

Little did I know that I was going to be transported into a fantasy world of talking possums, koalas, kangaroos, and more. It was quite a journey of a tale, both for my son as well as for me, as we toured Australia together with Hush and Grandma Poss. Together, we visited the capitals of all the states and encountered many different Australian animals while imagining tasting various Australian cuisine.

I realised then that Mem Fox was quite the storyteller.


Possum Magic
Possum Magic | Source

Possum Magic by Mem Fox

Early years

Born Merrion Frances Partridge in Melbourne in 1946, Mem Fox left Australia when still a young baby for Africa with her missionary parents. In the mid 1960s, she went to drama school for three years in London, and returned to Australia in 1970, living in Adelaide ever since.

Mem wrote her very first draft for Possum Magic in 1978 while studying at Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia. This draft was rejected by nine publishers over the course of five years, oh how they must have regretted their decisions by now (as Possum Magic is now considered to be the best selling children's book in Australia, ever!) When it was finally accepted by a publisher in Adelaide, Omnibus Books, she was requested to reduce the book by two thirds and make it a more Australian tale by replacing the mice with possums. The illustrator, Julie Vivas (whose work I am in admiration of), re-did the pictures and the book was finally printed in 1983.

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Possum Magic state capitals of Australia

I found this book very educational for my six year old son as we visited the very many state capitals of Australia while reading the book. He questioned where the states were, what the states were famous or known for, how far they were from where we lived, where the capitals were, how big or small in terms of population they were when compared to Melbourne, and many more. This curiosity remained as he progressed through the Primary School, often recollecting what the states of capitals of these states were because of the reading of Possum Magic.

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Possum Magic Australian foods and recipes

Out of all the Australian food mentioned in Possum Magic, my son and I were enthralled with the yummy Vegemite sandwich, the sweet Pavlova dessert and the dessicated coconut rich lamingtons. I then learnt to make these foods for my son, gathering recipes from both books and websites.

These are Australian favourites, traditionally loved and generally easy to make. The pav is one food that requires a number of eggs in its recipe, utilising only the egg whites to create that marshmallowy texture in the middle. Vegemite is also a fav with the kids, it is one of the world's richest sources of B group vitamins, being nutritious and versatile in how it can be used in food preparation. it has no artificial colours or flavours and the great thing about it is that it is virtually fat-free.The lamingtons, ah..., are squares (or more like rectangles) of plain cake, dipped in melted chocolate and sugar and coated in desiccated coconut. It is an easy food to make, baked in moderate oven for approximately 30 minutes. Preferably made the day before consumption for easier handling. Sponge cake of butter cake can be used. Optional filling: jam or cream. My son's favourite? Jam!

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Here is a clip on the book 'Possum Magic' to view.

Thanks to glrawe1. Please enjoy this clip, however, I personally find that there is nothing like having the book in your hand and reading it along with your child!

Video: Possum Magic - Written By Mem Fox , Illustrated by Julie Vivas

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Mem Fox has been busy over the years!

Mem has continued to share her gift of story-telling with us over the years. If your child has enjoyed Possum Magic, he or she will be sure to love her other books.

What these books are about:

  • Koala Lou - about sibling rivalry
  • Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge - about relationships with the Seniors
  • Wombat Divine - a Christmas story about determination
  • Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes - about the joy that babies bring to everyone in the world
  • The Magic Hat - irresistable magic fun
  • The Goblin and the Empty Chair - about family. friendship and compassion

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Koala Lou by Mem Fox
Koala Lou by Mem Fox | Source
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox | Source
Wombat Divine by mem Fox
Wombat Divine by mem Fox | Source
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox | Source
The Magic Hat by Mem Fox
The Magic Hat by Mem Fox | Source
The Goblin and the Empty Chair by Mem Fox
The Goblin and the Empty Chair by Mem Fox | Source

Video: Mem Fox reading aloud 'The Goblin and the Empty Chair'

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Mem Fox's achievements in terms of her books

Possum Magic book sales in Australia has surpassed four million in a country where the population is only 22 million. That figure is astounding indeed! Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge , also illustrated by Julie Vivas, has sold over a million copies in the United States. Time For Bed , illustrated by Jane Dyer, is one of the twenty best children’s books of all time as according to Oprah's list. Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes was amazingly on the New York Times bestseller lists in year 2008 and 2009 for as long as 16 weeks. Mem has been very busy, she has already written and had over thirty books published, many of them making a mark in young children's lives all over the world.

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Our memories

My 19 year old son, to this day, remembers fondly his very precious book of Possum Magic. I, in turn, treasure the memories it gave me of the times we shared reading the story together before he turned in for the night.

Thank you, Mem Fox, for those memories.

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Meanwhile, you take care :)

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Comments 5 comments

C Wilson 5 years ago

My kids love Possum Magic too. Was looking for her other books when I came across this nicely written article. Thanks for listing out her other books.


May PL profile image

May PL 5 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

No worries, C Wilson. Glad to be of help. Yes, Possum Magic is her best selling book.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

A great hub and thanks for sharing.

I now look forward to reading much more of your work.

Take care

Eiddwen.


May PL profile image

May PL 5 years ago from Melbourne, Australia Author

Hey Elddwen, thanks for your kind words, it is much appreciated!


htodd profile image

htodd 4 years ago from United States

Thanks..Her work is really great

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