I’m really lucky in that, as part of my role of literacy co-ordinator at school, I’ve been able to purchase books to stock the new library. In order to be able to recommend and talk to the children about these books, I’ve had to read them and it’s been brilliant!
This one is about a boy, Peter, who rescues a fox kitten, naming him Pax. He brings him up as a pet. Peter’s mum has recently passed away and the fox inadvertently helps him with his grief by giving him something to focus on. Peter lives with his dad and their relationship is strained to say the least. His dad is dealing with his own grief & feels heavily the burden of bringing up his son.
His dad signs up to fight in the army as a war seems inevitable. He tells Peter that he needs to reintroduce Pax into the wild as he will have to go and live with his grandpa for a while and the fox will be a problem. Peter is devastated and pleads with his father. The fox is more or less domesticated, how will he ever survive alone in the wild?
The chapter where Peter is forced against his will to discard the fox that he loves reduced me to tears. I’ve never owned a fox but I have two dogs whom I adore. The thought of giving them up is heartbreaking; I simply couldn’t do it. However, when my parents divorced, I remember having to have my two Chow-Chow dogs re-homed and reading this brought some uncomfortable memories back: I remember my dad saying ‘They never forget; they’ll always love you’ 💔 I remember thinking ‘This is your fault’. All these years later, I don’t think I’ve ever forgiven them for that, I think that’s why totally empathised with Peter.
Peter reluctantly goes to live with his grandpa and instantly realises he has to go and find his fox. The story continues from two perspectives: that of Peter and that of Pax. Both embarking on a journey.
This is such a wonderful book for children and adults alike. Full of sadness, regret & hope. Heart wrenching at times, the confusion and heartache of both Peter & Pax is so palpable. The character’s thoughts and feelings are so genuinely shared by Sara Pennypacker that is hard to believe they are fictional characters, it’s as if she is telling you a story about someone she knows.
I’m not going to lie, I cried throughout, because I felt so strongly about all the main characters, they were easy to relate to. Their bravery and devotion is so admirable. Pennypacker carefully conveys to her reader about love and loss and coming of age-whether you’re a boy or a fox-and it’s absolutely beautiful. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️