Animal lover that I am, I am also an unashamed omnivore with a discomfiting appreciation of bacon and ham, thus a picture book so titled could not fail to set the salivary glands in motion. Ahem… but jokes aside this is a serious(ly funny) situation for one little porker aptly named, Ham.
Ham and his barnyard buddies, Satay, Chops and Stew – notice the theme here – luxuriate in each other’s company and their benignly serene farm lifestyle until one day reality arrives with a heart-seizing shock; the realisation they are part of the human food chain. This is a devastating life blow that Ham takes particularly hard owing to his gorgeously, plump, voluptuous, wobbly…rump.
Determined to foil the farmer’s intent and their inevitable fate, Ham and his mates devise multiple plans to ensure they do not end up on a dinner plate. Each salvation attempt results in near annihilation but Ham refuses to be beaten, read: eaten. They decide on a more vegan approach but the farmer’s veggies are repellent enough to convert any vegetarian to the meat-lovers’ side of a pizza until they finally make a truly organic connection.
Ham is relatively new-kid-on-the-block, Dhana Fox’s second picture book and is chockers with easy rhyming text and comedy. Subtle adult word play partnered with easily understood idioms ensures this is a fun read aloud to share with youngsters of any dietary persuasion; and is more than suitable for vegetarians. Demchenko’s vibrant digitally enhanced illustrations resemble a jolly puppet play. I love each character’s boldly recognisable form and large goggle eyes expressing their every emotion.
The shrewd link between organic, self-staining, paddock to plate farming and nod to different food groups and dietary options adds another delicious layer to this little ripper of a tale about friendship, ingenuity and perseverance thus extending its shelf-life for repeated consumption even longer – no pun intended.
Full marks for this well-conceived, well-executed and well-packaged picture book. The only thing it failed to do is discourage me from loving BLTs. Sorry!
Author: Dhana Fox
Illustrator: Anna Demchenko
Publisher: Larrikin House, $24.99
Publication Date: February 2021
For ages: 3 – 8
Type: Picture Book