December 12, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

3 Adorably Fox-y Picture Books

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Foxes are among the most beautiful of the woodland creatures, yet they often get a bad rap in children’s books, usually cast as villains, sneaks, or predators. This month brings three titles to help change those negative perceptions, showing the warm interactions of a mother fox and her young one, agile kits jumping rope, and a clever young fox who figures out the best way to have fun on a windy spring day.

Aman, Kimiko. The Fox Wish. tr. from Japanese. illus. by Komako Sakai. 32p. ebook available. Chronicle. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781452151885.

PB-SP-AmanPreS-Gr 1 –Siblings Roxie and Lukie venture back to the park they left earlier to search for Roxie’s jump rope. Much to their surprise, they come across a group of fox pups using it in their own game. As Roxie attempts to retrieve the jump rope, the children learn that it had been a wish come true for the littlest fox; her name is Roxie, too, just like the painted name on the rope’s handle. Wishes are a powerful thing, and granting them may foment even more generosity. Aman chooses her words deliberately and paces the narrative carefully. But it is Sakai’s pencil, pen, and acrylic illustrations that give the tale its believability. Wide-eyed and cherubic, Lukie and Roxie evoke the work of Eloise Wilkin without any of the sentimentality, and the cavorting foxes are magically airborne without any anthropomorphism. VERDICT A strong addition that is perfect for a small group storytime or a quiet moment one-on-one with a favorite wish granter.–Lisa Lehmuller, Paul Cuffee Maritime Charter School, Providence

Chrustowski, Rick. My Little Fox. illus. by Rick Chrustowski. 40p. ebook available. S. & S./Beach Lane. May 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481469616.

PB-SP-ChrustowskiPreS –A spare, lushly illustrated tale about a fox kit’s first year, this title combines art and text in an inventive way. The final word in each gentle, rhyming line is part of the artwork portraying a different season. For example, the spread encouraging Little Fox to run “in the summer sun” contains a field of flowers and bold orange text in the shape of a sun. Ideal for introducing very young listeners to the concepts of rhyme and print awareness, Chrustowski’s warm full-bleed illustrations also provide a reassuring backdrop for Little Fox’s adventures. After a year has passed, Mama Fox urges her little one to venture out alone but promises to always be there watching and waiting from the comfort of home. The thick matte pages and cozy theme make this book ideal for sharing on the lap of a loved one. VERDICT A colorful look at the natural world and the seasons for one-on-one and small group sharing.–Jenna Boles, Greene County Public Library, Beavercreek, OH

Letourneau, Marie. Argyle Fox. illus. by Marie Letourneau. 32p. Tanglewood. Mar. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781939100092.

PB-SP-LetourneauPreS-Gr 2 –Argyle Fox has a problem. He dons his classic diamond-patterned outerwear to play outdoors, but it is too windy in the forest. Every time he thinks of an activity, the wind comes along and “Woosh!”—it all gets blown away! Argyle becomes frustrated and grumpy when things don’t go his way. In the end, though, he learns that he just needs a little creativity and flexibility to have some fun. With his emphatic exclamations and imaginative role-playing, Argyle has a fully realized personality. The artwork is rich, engaging, and filled with endearing details. The other forest creatures, such as a gardening badger in overalls and a little blue bird with a pirate eye patch, are particularly charming. This is a cautionary tale that can provide social and emotional lessons for children who are easily frustrated or angered. As Argyle discovers, there is always a way to make the best out of a seemingly tough situation. VERDICT A perfect story for a windy day; the illustrations shine in this charismatic read-aloud addition to picture book collections.–Alyssa Annico, Youngstown State University, OH

Luann Toth About Luann Toth

Luann Toth (ltoth@mediasourceinc.com) is Managing Editor of SLJ Reviews. A public librarian by training, she has been reviewing books for a quarter of a century and continues to be fascinated by the constantly evolving, ever-expanding world of publishing.

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