About a Boy and a Fox

Day 10…. About a Boy and A Fox ~ and so much more!

When one has the privilege of working in the world of System Literacy support, it is inevitable that book titles abound on a regular basis.  A couple of weeks ago, one of our Coordinators was recommending a book about a fox to friends on Facebook and then just days later, the same book was part of a  selection of texts used by another Learning Coordinator at the STEAM conference.  So, when the opportunity presented itself, I downloaded the story and selected it as my next audiobook (keeping me company as I walk and as I drive).  This past Sunday turned out to be one of those days where a long drive and then time alone in the kitchen allowed me long periods of uninterrupted listening time and I found myself whisked away in the world of Pax. This morning, I timed my morning walk and drive to work to coincide with finishing the book.  Little did I know that as the final words in the final chapter were read, my tears would begin to flow ~ slowly at first and then uncontrollably.


What starts out as a simple story about a boy and his pet fox, turns into one of the most richly written, multi-layered books that I’ve read in a long time. Within minutes, Pennypacker is pulling at the reader’s heart strings as the separation of Peter and Pax immediately begins journeys of a desired reunion for both characters.  Eventful and at times heart-stopping journeys that on the surface seem so different and yet their parallels become evident on so many levels.  As Peter and Pax try desperately to find their way back to each other, they encounter colourful, tormented and ultimately redeeming characters who both hinder and then help their respective journeys.

downloadWoven within descriptive, melodically rhythmic words, readers witness toy soldiers evolve from a pet’s throw toy to representing the “war sick” and destruction.  The psyche of a baseball player evolving from a nasty sneer of a competing team to a shared symbol of peace and a book found in the pocket of a dead soldier evolving from retelling a story as a means of redemption to a catalyst for a phoenix to rise from the ashes and experience rebirth.

To say that I highly recommend this book, seems bland and vanilla compared to the rich vocabulary, incredible imagery and heart pounding scenes which Pennypacker brings to life so eloquently.

IF you are looking for a book to highlight for your grade 7-12 students, I can promise that as soon as you read one or two purposefully selected passages, you’ll have a hard time keeping this one of the shelf.

What have you read lately that you can’t wait to share with your students or with your friends?  What made that book so powerful for you?


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2 thoughts on “About a Boy and a Fox

  1. I read this book recently too. I was previewing it to see if it would be good for my daughter – who is only 9. After, I thought I would tuck it away. While she would understand the story, I don’t think she’s old enough to understand or appreciate deeply some of the themes of family, war, etc in the book yet.

    I loved that you almost shared the grief of separation with the characters in the beginning and then like them, grew to appreciate the relationships they made being apart. The characters really grew from start to finish.

    But my husband is reading it 🙂

    It’s one of those great books that you immediately want to talk to other people about.

  2. Sue,

    I have not read a book for leisure in quite some time – although I have a large stack accumulated – I seem to continue to find more professional texts that grab my attention.

    One of the most recent books that I read was called The Nurtured Heart Approach, by Howard Glasser. It is a short read, but has some amazing illustrations of methods for building deep connections with our most difficult students. The central theme being that we can build our students sense of self and capacity by acknowledging their “greatness” by noticing and talking about their good qualities frequently. For more info check out http://childrenssuccessfoundation.com/

    One of the concepts that had me thinking was the idea of framing rules in the negative (e.g. No swearing), rather than in the positive (e.g. use respectful language). He explains that the positive perspective can be hard for children to truly understand the meaning of, and thus they struggle with following the rules. Having rules framed in the negative also allows more opportunities for acknowledging students who are are following the expectations, thus increasing their sense of “greatness”.

    The techniques seem simple upon first reading, but changing old habits can be hard. I have been working with the ideas at home with my own children for the past few weeks and when followed consistently we have seen changes. The program requires diligence, but can have huge impacts on how students see themselves.

    I have one more professional text on the go, but when that one is done I am promising myself a read for leisure – Pax may be it. You are the third person who has raved about it.


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