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Monday, June 26, 2017

The Secret Life of the Red Fox, written by Laurence Pringle and illustrated by Kate Garchinsky. Boyds Mills Press, Highlights. 2017. $21.99 ages 5 and up

"She dashes through the woods, crosses a road, leaps onto the top of a stone wall, and looks back. The dogs are still coming. Vixen runs on. She slips through a thicket of thorny brambles. She leaps across a creek and climbs to the top of a steep hill in a cow pasture. There she catches her breath."

Foxes have made their presence known in many books for children in the past year. Kids seem to love reading about them, and authors are willing to share their stories. It's a win-win situation for all of us!

We meet Vixen on a sunny winter afternoon. Once awakened from a warm and satisfying sleep, she is eager to explore her surroundings. She's hungry. Using her acute ability to smell and hear what humans cannot, she is off to hunt for a juicy meal. As she goes, Laurence Pringle offers up sound information about her anatomy, her diet, and her ability to sense movement even under the deep snow.

"She moves her head slowly to better pinpoint the sound.
Nibble, nibble, nibble.
She crouches, then leaps high in the air and dives into the snow,
landing with her head and front feet. The mouse is caught,
and soon eaten. All that remains is a little spot of blood on the

So we travel with her as she hunts, finds her mate, marks her territory, and continues to feast on food found. Danger is ever near. So, she must be vigilant as she searches for a burrow where the two can safely welcome a family in the spring. The kits are taught all the secrets of a fox's life under the gentle guidance of their parents. In early fall, they are ready to venture forth on their own.

Mixing storytelling and factual information seamlessly, this book will certainly appeal to many. Adding Kate Garchinsky's pastel and aqua crayon artwork is a perfect match. She captures the beauty of the surroundings, while also bringing emotion and dramatic energy to many special moments for the fox family. I have some favorites, you will have your own.

The author includes in back matter a More About the Red Fox section, a glossary for unfamiliar terms used, and a list of resources for those wanting to know more. Stunning!

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