by Jean Craighead George
and John George
Life of a fox, in the woods of Maryland. He is a regular animal hero- the smartest one of his litter, the terror of small creatures, a clever trickster who enjoys fooling the hounds. At an early age he sees his siblings fall- one is caught by an owl as a young pup, another snared in a trap when they are a little older. Vulpes remembers keenly the lessons from these tragedies. He meets the challenges of the wild with skill and bravery. The story shows his interaction with other wildlife, how he he finds a mate and helps raise the cubs. But must always evade those who hunt him- man. Many scenes are from the viewpoint of men who live near the same woods- trappers and hunters keen to catch our furry protagonist. It\’s a nice touch that the author uses the scientific identity of all the wild animals in the story as their name- easy way to get kids to learn them.
This was another one the library system recommended to me. But- I tried three times to get through it- and it just wasn\’t holding my attention. I ended up skimming the majority of the book. It\’s one of those written for younger readers and the lack of detail, rapid advances in the story and very humanlike powers of reasoning attributed to animals just didn\’t work for me this time. If you must know: death is frequent, but not lingered upon or described in detail. (The fox meets his end abruptly, via a hunter\’s gun).
The wash illustrations done by the author herself are quite nice- here\’s two of my favorites. It was her first published work.
Abandoned 240 pages, 1948
The illustrations are lovely but I bet the death scenes bother some kids.
Those scenes are really very matter-of-fact and understated. I've read far more disturbing death scenes in other animal books. Kids young enough might not even make the connection between the description of a chase and the fox calmly eating a meal in the next paragraph.