February 18, 2018

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The Big Bad Fox by Benjamin Renner | SLJ Review

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redstarRENNER, Benjamin. The Big Bad Fox. tr. from French by Joe Johnson. illus. by Benjamin Renner. 192p. First Second. Jun. 2017. pap. $15.99. ISBN 9781626723313.

STAR-GN-Renner-TheBigBadFoxGr 3-6 –The proverbial fox may be a menace to the henhouse—but not the hero of this work. The titular character lacks gumption, guile, or cunning, and the chickens send him running each time he ventures into the farmyard. Taking pity on the fox, the wolf proposes playing the long game: stealing eggs and eventually eating the hatched chickens. The fox successfully makes off with the eggs, but things get complicated when the chicks emerge and (surprise, surprise!) assume that the fox is their mother. Though this work is similar in look and tone to typical comic strips (bulging-eyed, caricaturelike characters with exaggerated expressions; occasional slapstick violence; motion lines), there’s a sophistication to the art that recalls the author/illustrator’s roots as a celebrated filmmaker and cartoonist. Renner sets the individual scenes against a white backdrop, free of borders, resulting in a clean design, and the use of color, texture, and shading is top-notch. While much of the humor derives from somewhat predictable setups, such as the fox’s botched attempts at proving that he can be just as intimidating as the wolf, it’s sure to tickle young funny bones, and the author injects the narrative with a sly, edgy sensibility that sets this title apart from more typical fare. This one has heart, too, depicting the fox’s burgeoning feelings of affection toward his unlikely ward. VERDICT Bound to keep adults and kids alike laughing, this is a winning selection for comic book fans, reluctant readers, and those who enjoy subversive comedy.–Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

This review was published in the School Library Journal April 2017 issue.

Mahnaz Dar About Mahnaz Dar

Mahnaz Dar (mdar@mediasourceinc.com) is Assistant Managing Editor for Library Journal and School Library Journal and can be found on Twitter @DibblyFresh.

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