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Thursday, March 16, 2017

How to Find a Fox, by Nilah Magruder. Feiwel and Friends, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2016. $19.50 ages 3 and up


Climb a tree."

I'm sure you know the tenacity that young children can bring to getting something that is important to them. They are so persistent and focused on a project, a game, the search for a fox. A fox? Well sometimes, I guess.

The small girl in this charming picture book is intent on finding a fox, and she sets about telling us just how to do it for ourselves. Who knew the fox would be just as resolute in avoiding being discovered as she is in finding him? But, she is and she does not want to give up even though he is so elusive.

Her first person voice is strong as she gives careful instructions to readers. There are many things we must do if we really want to find a fox.

"Find a fox hole.
Any fox hole will do.
The best foxes are at home
when you visit."

The wily creature who so carefully follows the little one as she searches is obviously not one of the 'best'. He is not at home, and not at all amenable to being seen. She sets a trap (a chicken leg) and waits. A long wait, watching ants and having a ladybug crawl on her, offers fatigue but no reward. Readers will be quick to point out loudly that the fox snaps up the bait as soon as she leaves to formulate another plan. Sneaky little devil!

I can just hear early years listeners yelling instructions to the young hunter. They will not be able to contain themselves! The child does not respond to their guidance, plodding forward and always on the lookout, even though the fox is often in plain sight. When she finally spies him from high up on a tree limb, she is quick to descend - but, not quick enough. He is gone by the time her feet hit the ground.

When you know he is lost to you, she suggests you express your dismay with great care. Then, lie down and let your disappointment wash over you. That might just be the ticket. Sometimes, just sometimes, the fox is meant to find YOU!

Appealing characters, an engaging story line, and a hint of humor will have young listeners wanting to hear this story again.                                                       

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