Guess What? by Mem Fox

Reviewed by Tash Hughes

A beautifully illustrated and fun book for children of all ages.

The pictures are very Australian: the isolated, ramshackle farmhouse amongst brown bushes, the outhouse with graffiti and recognizable product labels such as Vegemite and Defender.

Guess What? is about a crazy lady called Daisy O’Grady, who is tall, wears a black dress, likes to fly at night and is, you guessed it, a cranky old witch. Both the story and the illustrations move slowly towards knowing Daisy better, until the final twist of the story.

There are few words per page, so the text is simple enough for young children, but the pictures are worth a long look and many discussions. Each page asks a question then tells the reader to “Guess!” the answer. It is actually answered on the next page; the predictability of all answers being yes adds to the excitement for children.

Each page of text is opposite its relevant illustration, which is clear and eye-catching. Most pictures have a focus that dominates, but all include incredible detail and realism that makes the book so delightful and approachable. It is by looking at the illustrations carefully that adults and older children will pick up some of the humour and reality of the book. For instance, a glance at her kitchen shows familiar packets of flour, tomato sauce, baked beans and spices. Reading labels will give a very different view of her cooking! As will a careful inspection of her recipe bookshelf.

Guess What?by Mem Fox, illustrated by Vivienne Goodman
Omnibus Books, 1988