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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Little Fox in the Forest, by Stephanie Graegin. Schwartz & Wade Books, Random House. 2017. $23.99 ages 4 and up

"When a young girl
brings her beloved
stuffed fox to the
playground, imagine
her surprise when
a real fox takes off
with it!
Join the little girl
and her friend, the boy ... "

While Reynard did not make the trip from Victoria to Brandon in June, he is one of Sicily's many 'special friends', who happens to be stuffed. He provides comfort when needed and companionship for many a walk or car trip.

The front endpaper for this very special (and wordless) illustrated book offers a glimpse into the bedroom of the girl at the center of the storyline. It has a bookshelf filled to the brim with books and buddies. The wall behind holds meaningful photographs. It certainly foreshadows the coming action!

Turn to the title page and we learn even more. She is asleep, arms wrapped around the little fox, a book by her bedside, and handmade art adorning the walls of her bedroom. She is an explorer as shown by the butterfly net, rubber boots, backpack and the artwork displayed.

At school at the end of the day, an invitation is issued for show-and-tell tomorrow. The descriptors are 'something old, something treasured'. Her stuffed fox comes to mind immediately. Preparation for his visit is filled with memories of times past.

Leaving that treasured fox in her backpack as she enjoys a swing at the playground after school leaves it vulnerable to a real fox absconding with it! What follows is the chase between girl and fox to get her buddy back. Her school friend follows, abandoned backpack in hand. The chase is long, and followed with much interest by many forest animals. Help is sought and a new trail followed.

Our attention turns to the fox, who is happily imagining life with a new 'found' friend, and to a wily weasel bent on taking what is not his. Bear is the arbitrator for that skirmish, sending weasel packing and leaving Fox to find his place in another part of the forest. It is full of color, bursting with animal life, and home for the little one.

What follows is a heartfelt discovery and exchange that is sure to satisfy a young audience!

The detailed illustrations are rendered in pencil, watercolor, and ink, assembled and colored digitally. It provides fodder for meaningful discussion and will be pored over again and again, with readers finding something new each time it is shared. (Don't miss the back endpaper.)vg

Rich in meaning and filled with beautiful images, this is tale to be treasured.

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