PUBLICATION DATE: February 2, 2016
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 5 hrs and 35 mins
GENRE: Childrens/Middle Grade Fiction
Pax and Peter have been inseparable ever since Peter rescued him as a kit. But one day the unimaginable happens: Peter's dad enlists in the military and makes him return the fox to the wild.
At his grandfather's house 300 miles away from home, Peter knows he isn't where he should be - with Pax. He strikes out on his own despite the encroaching war, spurred by love, loyalty, and grief, to be reunited with his fox.
Meanwhile Pax, steadfastly waiting for his boy, embarks on adventures and discoveries of his own....
From best-selling and award-winning author Sara Pennypacker comes a beautifully wrought, utterly compelling novel about the essential truths that define us and the devastating costs of war. Pax is destined to become a beloved classic.
I have a soft spot for animal stories, and this one broke my heart! This is a 2016 National Book Award nominee for Young People’s Literature.
Peter is a 12-year-old boy, who finds an orphaned fox cub that is just 16 days old. He tells his father that he is going to keep it, and he names the fox Paxton or “Pax” for short. The two become so close that, at times, Peter feels himself merge with Pax, seeing the world through the fox’s eyes. When Peter’s father volunteers to serve in the war, it means that not only does Peter have to move 300 miles away to live with his grandfather but also that it is time to return Pax to the wild. Peter’s father drives out to a remote area, and Peter takes Pax’s favourite toy and throws it as far as he can into the woods. Pax runs after it to retrieve it, thinking that it is a game, but then Pax hears the vehicle drive away. Pax returns to the road just in time to watch the vehicle drive off without him.My heart just broke for Pax and Peter!
I loved the author’s dual narration of both Peter and Pax. Leaving Pax behind tears out Peter’s heart, and he realizes that it was wrong to leave his best friend and playmate behind. He is determined to go back home to find Pax, making the long trek on foot. It isn’t long before he takes a tumble and breaks his foot. He was trying to cut across private property, and the homeowner is a bit of a recluse. Vola was a medic in the war, and she had to kill. For that, she has never forgiven herself and she doesn’t think she’s fit to be around other people and has isolated herself from the world. We also learn about the heartbreaking fatal accident of Peter’s mother, and his guilt over that. This is an integral part of the story, because Peter’s contact with this woman sets in motion her healing process as well as his own. Simultaneously, Pax must learn how to survive in the wild and has to learn to follow his instincts.
There is so much more to this story than just Peter and Pax. It is about loyalty, survival, sacrifice, compassion, and forgiveness. The ending totally broke me and was very emotional. I think that it was fitting to the theme of the book, and the only thing that I would change would be to end with Pax’s narrative. I need an Epilogue, Ms. Pennypacker! I know this book is considered middle-grade fiction, but I’m glad that I vetted this one before reading it aloud to my nine-year-old daughter. I think she would have found the story too upsetting, so just a caution if you have sensitive kids. I think this story would be a great novel study for a Grade 5 classroom!
“but distrust is no match for kindness administered consistently and unmeasured, especially in creatures new to the world.”
Narrator Michael Curran-Dorsano is new to me, and he was a real treat! His voice was very moving and fitting to the characters, and I found it hard to stop listening. Here is a sample of the narration:
5 stars!! It was superb, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys animal stories!
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