A Game of Fox & Squirrels

Holt. Apr. 2020. 224p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781250243010.
Gr 5-8–An engaging blend of genres that will be different from most novels on middle grade shelves. Reese’s latest blurs the lines of real and fantastical in the everyday world. Samantha and her older sister Caitlin are sent to live with an aunt they hardly know following a domestic violence incident. Both sisters are dealing with the move and the changes that surround them. When Samantha receives a gift of a board game called “Fox & Squirrels,” her curiosity prompts her to open the box on the first night. After she opens it, Samantha starts to see the game characters in her real world. She must follow the rules of the game and complete the tasks asked of her to win a wish for anything she desires. She must decide how far she will go to grasp this ultimate prize. Reese blends intriguing fantasy elements with a realistic fiction plot. As the story progresses, clues are revealed about what was actually happening in the sisters’ lives at home. At the same time, readers are drawn into the fantasy world of the game. The plot gains momentum as the mysteries of both the realistic elements and the fantasy world entwine. Readers who enjoyed Kate DiCamillo‘s The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane or Katherine Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan will want to play this dangerous game with Samantha.
VERDICT A middle grade fantasy dealing with realistic issues that will be a solid addition to elementary or middle school libraries where either genre circulates well.

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