A Tuesday Ten: Foxes Fantastic
Posted by Stephanie Whelan
Cracks knuckles. Puts on glasses. Okay let’s do this. I’m back! It’s been a bit of a haul these last few months with everything but I’m back on with the blog! Sorry to all my readers it took so long to get back in gear!
So this week’s Tuesday Ten is foxes in the fantastic. From the first time I saw Disney’s Robin Hood and read Redwall, foxes have been part of my fantasy experience. Here are some fantastical books that feature them.
Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl (Puffin, c1970)
Seriously who wouldn’t put this book at the top? Roald Dahl’s tricky tale of a rather civilized fox who figures out how to get the best of a couple of fox-hating nasty farmers is a favorite among young readers. Slightly subversive and hilarious as all of his books tend to be. It’s a slightly different experience than the movie that was made based on the book a few years ago.
Foxcraft: The Taken by Inbali Iserles (Scholastic, 2015)
Isla, a young fox comes home to find her den burning, her family nowhere in sight and strange and vicious foxes hunting her. Now she’s on the run in the city, running from those who pursue her–desperate to stay alive. The answer to her survival, and destiny may lie in the ancient fox magic she’s only just beginning to learn–can she master her skills in time? The second book in this new animal urban fantasy, The Elders is due out in September 2016.
The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith (Penguin, 2015)
A lonely fox befriends a star. The star makes life bearable in the dark, dark forest, giving fox light to hunt by, run by and dance by. But when the star’s light suddenly goes out, the fox must go on a search for his friend. Now fox must journey from the world he knows to an unknown, wondrous world discovering much about himself and the world in the process. A sweet fairy-tale like story with gorgeous illustrations.
Pax by Sarah Pennypacker, illustrated by Jon Klassen (Balzer & Bray, February 2016)
One of the talked about books this year is this newest from Sarah Pennypacker. This makes the list on the fact that the story is told from Pax’s POV at times, so technically can be fantasy, though it really is in a grey area. This is the story of Pax, a fox rescued and raised by a boy named Peter. But when war comes and their family must flee, his father convinces Peter to abandon Pax. Both boy and fox set out on a journey to reunite, and grow into their own in the process.
Mattimeo by Brian Jacques (Ace Books, c1990)
Foxes of course can also be the villains of a story. The Redwall chronicles routinely feature foxes, along with other predators, in the role of antagonists and villains. I picked this one since it’s the first where the fox, Slagar the Cruel is the main villain. This crafty fox captures Mattimeo the son of the Redwall Abbey hero. Now he’s being held as hostage so that his parents and the abbey will agree to Slagar’s demands. But in Mattimeo beats the heart of a hero, and he’s about to prove it.
The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery (Harcourt, c1943)
If you want to talk about foxes and friendship, this might be the place to start. I’ll just put this quote in from the fox speaking to the Little Prince : “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world….”
The Gathering Storm by H. K. Varian (Simon Spotlight, June 2016)
A new mystical fantasy series featuring four middle schoolers who discover they have the power to transform into mystical animals. Mack, the cover character here can transform into a spirit fox I believe. Since shape shifting so often involves wolves it’s nice to have some variety in the animal types and cultural backgrounds from which they spring. Part of an ongoing series for younger chapter book readers.
Love and Roast Chicken by Barbara Knutson (Carolrhoda Books , 2004)
If I get a chance at reading aloud to an older group, this picture book folktale that recounts some trickster stories from the Andes is one of my most usual picks. Cuy the guinea pig is our resident trickster, always out for food. His adversary is Tio Antonio, the fox who would like nothing better than to have Cuy for a meal. Unfortunately, Tio Antonio only winds up falling for all guinea pig’s lies and tricks with hilarious results.
Cats of Tanglewood Forest by Charles DeLint, illustrated by Charles Vess (Little, Brown Books, 2013)
In this story, Lillian is a girl bitten by a snake. In order to save her, the cats transform her into a kitten. Unable to be content with her new kittenish existence, Lillian searches for a way back to being human. Along the way she encounters many different animals including a friendly fox , T. H. Fox, who may, or may not be entirely trustworthy.
Fox’s Dream by Keizaburo Teijima (Philomel, c1987)
I added this obscure picture book to the list, because I just feel it’s one of the more lovely books I’ve encountered. Stunning woodcut art tells the story of a fox hunting a rabbit through a snow covered landscape. When the rabbit escapes, the fox dreams of fantastical creatures romping, formed out of the snow covered trees. He sees his own days of playing with his brothers. Finally he wakes to find a vixen watching them, and the two head off together with the promise of Spring not far off.
So there you go! My first Tuesday list back in form. I know I must be missing quite a few fox fantasy stories so please feel free to fill in more titles in the comments!
About Stephanie WhelanI'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.
Posted on August 23, 2016, in General Posts, Lists and tagged Animals, Authors, Books, Children's Books, Children's Literature, fantasy, kidlit, Lists, literature, MG Books, Middle-Grade Fiction, Picture Books, Reading. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.