Aug 2, 2014

Outfoxing the Fox

by Friederike Rave

A little fox wakes up one day and decides he doesn't have to go to school, because "foxes are clever enough already." But when he visits the henhouse to get a chicken for his dinner, the hens are far too smart for him. They pretend to be sick, insisting they'd love to help him out, but he doesn't want to eat a sick chicken- he should wait until they are better. The fox agrees this seems best. Each night he returns to the henhouse, and then hens are progressively wrapped up in more clothes, sneezing and coughing, claiming to still be sick. Finally the hungry fox gives up on chickens and with a bit of luck steals a hunter's sandwich. Pleased to have a good meal at last, he tucks into his sandwich planning to go visit the chickens again tomorrow. But they won't be there- you can see their getaway plan on the last page.

This is a fun book, with lively illustrations and some silly situations that make my little girl giggle. But there's a few things that bug me about it. One is the idea that this fox is skipping school- yet there's no mention of school brought up again, he doesn't learn some tricks or skills somewhere and then try them out as I half-expected. No parent figures in the story at all either. Another is that on most pages the hens are painting swathes of the page white, or rolling out white paper (see the cover). First time I read the story I thought this was part of their plan to fool the fox- maybe they were making everything white like winter, to back up their "sick with a cold" ruse. Then I realized it was a visual joke in the background: then hens are just making white space for the text. But it felt like it ought to be part of the story!

Regardless, it's a book my three-year-old really enjoys, so I shouldn't be so critical. But for myself, it feels kind of awkward. Some parts just don't fit together.

Rating: 2/5      28 pages, 2010

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1 comment:

Jenny @ Reading the End said...

Hahaha, well, even with the flaws, it sounds incredibly charming. I had a book as a kid called The Speckledy Hen, which was about a hen whose friends help her to outwit and escape from the fox who wants to eat her and her chicks all up. It was good. No school-skipping.

(Actually, school saves the day! The little hedgehog who knows how to read goes to read a story to the fox, and the fox gets so entranced by the story that the chickens are able to slip away unnoticed.)