by Sara Pennypacker
illustrated by Jon Klassen
Pax was another recommendation from my brother. This time though it wasn’t my favorite book. It was sad (which he forewarned me about by saying to read it with a box of tissues), the father was awful, and the ending left several plot lines unfinished. While it was beautifully written, I was ultimately a little disappointed.
Pax is the story of a young boy and his pet fox who have been together since Peter found the kit all alone. Peter named his fox Pax and all Pax has ever known is Peter and life as a domesticated fox. Their life is turned topsy turvy when Peter’s father enlists and makes Peter return Pax to the wild. Peter’s mother is dead, so he will be living with his grandfather. It is a sad day when Peter tricks Pax into leaving by dropping him off at a wood and throwing Pax his toy to chase before driving away with his dad. The rest of the story follows Peter and Pax as they struggle to live apart. Spoilers: as soon as Peter leaves Pax, he knows he did the wrong thing and plans to go back and find him. He runs away from his grandfather and before long breaks his foot and is found by Vola, a former soldier who lost her leg and now lives alone in the woods. They form an odd pair as Vola nurses Peter and Peter draws Vola out of her shell and back into society. Meanwhile, Pax figures out what Peter did and is lonely and confused. He’s never lived in the wild and is frightened by the environment and strange noises. He is determined to wait where Peter left him, knowing that Peter will return. As the days pass, Pax becomes dehydrated, hungry and discouraged. One day an older fox finds him and he gradually becomes integrated into his pack with a female fox, Bristle and her brother, Runt. He begins to bond with them and immerse himself into the life of wild foxes. Their life is full of heartache as their home is being overtaken by the army, which causes the older fox to die when he steps on explosives. Pax bonds more and more with Bristle and Runt through all their difficulties. In the end, Peter recovers enough to search for Pax and after traveling a few days, he finds him in the woods with Bristle and Runt. Pax recognizes Peter and runs to him, but they both realize that Pax belongs in the wild with his new family. The ending was fitting, but sad. My biggest complaints were the father . . .he was checked out the entire time and had no support or understanding for his son. And there were several loose ends. What about the grandfather: did he ever look for his grandson or care that he was missing? And Vola? Did she integrate with society or go back to being a hermit?
A huge plus were the charming illustrations:
Summing it up: I enjoyed reading it to an extent, but in the end, I was sad and disappointed. I’m on the fence for recommending it, since it wasn’t “bad,” but it wasn’t amazing.
All the best, Abbey