Author: Pennypacker, Sara
After being forced to give up his pet fox Pax, a young boy named Peter decides to leave home and get his best friend back.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 5.30
Points: 8.0 Quiz: 179541
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 3-5
Reading Level: 5.60
Points: 13.0 Quiz: 68130
Kirkus Reviews (+) (11/01/15)
School Library Journal (00/12/15)
Booklist (+) (11/01/15)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (00/02/16)
The Hornbook (00/03/16)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 11/01/2015 *Starred Review* Peter and Pax, his pet fox he found as a kit on the day of his mother’s funeral, are inseparable. That is, until Peter’s dad enlists in the military and Peter is forced to abandon Pax before moving to his grandfather’s house. Almost as soon as he gets there, however, he slips out, determined to hike the hundreds of miles back to where he left his pet. Not long into his journey, he is injured and reluctantly taken in by Vola, a war veteran and amputee who stubbornly lives on her own. In chapters from the fox’s point of view, Pax struggles in the wild until a grizzled old fox agrees to help him get home. Pennypacker alternates between Pax’s and Peter’s perspectives, while the simmering war between unnamed countries grows dangerously close to home. As she slowly reveals secrets about Peter’s and Vola’s pasts, she sensitively and engagingly explores questions about anger, wildness, isolation, and family. Meanwhile, both fox and boy grow in unexpected ways. While there’s a lot of emotional complexity here, the focus is solidly on the earthy, tense wilderness adventure, which is likely what will draw young readers most. Pennypacker’s expert, evenhanded storytelling reveals stunning depth in a relatively small package. Final illustrations by Caldecott Medal winner Klassen not seen.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Pennypacker is no stranger to the New York Times best-seller list, and with award-winning Klassen in the mix, this adventure story should easily find a wildly enthusiastic audience. - Copyright 2015 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 12/01/2015 Gr 4–7—A viscerally affecting story of war, loss, and the power of friendship. Pennypacker, author of the exuberant "Clementine" series (Disney-Hyperion) and the charmingly morbid Summer of the Gypsy Moths (HarperCollins, 2012), here displays not only her formidable writing skills and a willingness to stretch her storytelling into increasingly complex narrative forms but also her ability to tackle dark and weighty themes with sensitivity and respect for the child reader. Set in an intentionally undefined time and place that could very well be a near-future America, the novel opens with a heartbreaking scene of a tame red fox, Pax, being abandoned at the side of the road by his beloved boy, Peter. Perspectives alternate between the boy and the fox, and readers learn that a terrible war rages in this land. Peter's father is about to leave for the frontlines, and while he's away, Peter must live with his grandfather out in the country—and his father makes it clear that there is no place for Pax in Peter's temporary home. Almost as soon as he arrives at his grandfather's, Peter is overcome with guilt, and he sets off under the cover of darkness to trek the 300 miles back to his home, where he prays he'll find Pax. The loyal fox, meanwhile, must figure out how to survive in the wild—though never losing hope that his boy will return for him. As the protagonists struggle to reunite in a world in the grip of violence and destruction, they each find helpers who assist them on their respective journeys: Peter breaks his foot and is rehabilitated by Vola, a hermit suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, while Pax is taken in by a leash of foxes who teach him the basics of foraging and hunting. Pennypacker doesn't shy away from some of the more realistic aspects of war, though she keeps most of the violence slightly off-screen: in one scene, the wild foxes define war for the naive Pax as a "human sickness" that causes them to turn on their own kind, akin to rabies; later, as the battle creeps closer, several creatures are maimed and killed by land mines. Black-and-white drawings by Klassen offer a respite for readers, while adding to the haunting atmosphere.With spare, lyrical prose, Pennypacker manages to infuse this tearjerker with a tender hope, showing that peace and love can require just as much sacrifice as war. VERDICT A startling work of fiction that should be read—and discussed—by children and adults alike.—Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal - Copyright 2015 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
School Library Journal - 12/01/2016 Gr 4–7—With moving prose, Pennypacker tells an unusual, viscerally affecting story of war, loss, and the power of friendship. Alternating perspectives between a boy and his pet fox, the novel tracks each character's quest to reunite after their forced separation in a conflict-ridden landscape. Klassen's black-and-white drawings add to the haunting atmosphere of this startling title that children and adults will want to discuss together. - Copyright 2016 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.