Ben Mann is an artist from the northern Puget Sound region and residents from Mount Vernon to Bellingham might be familiar with some of his work without even knowing it. Based in Bellingham his work has been showcased throughout the region. Now he has turned his attention to illustrating children’s books, with his second effort being not only featuring his artwork, but his story as well.
Friendly The Fox introduces readers to an animal that always has a smile on his face and is ready to lend a helping paw. Even the unlikeliest of animals are on the receiving end of Friendly’s friendliness. At first we are introduced to Friendly and he encounters a few creatures that would have some sort of antagonistic relationship, if they have one at all, but Friendly’s reaction is always one of kindness.
My wife took this book to her Kindergarten class and read the book to her students. They were reportedly engaged and are the right age for the lesson the book is trying to reinforce.
There is no surprise twist, which is actually nice. Instead what we are presented with is a nice story with an unlikely protagonist. Foxes are usually presented as sneaky, devious, a villain if you will. Friendly is just that, and any conflict that might arise is quickly averted.
Mention should be made of the art style with Mann’s paintings in bright colors bringing to life the vivid imagery on each page. There is a playfulness to his work and I am surprised Ben Mann is not more in demand because his pictures here are delightful.
There is a wealth of different animals to identify on the pages, starting off with the ordinary ones you would expect a fox to come across, eventually moving to some more exotic ones. Friendly The Fox is a fun book for youngsters in the pres-school/Kindergarten range. It is engaging and positive with some fantastic visuals.