FICTION

One Fox: A Counting Book Thriller

Peachtree. Oct. 2019. 36p. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781682631317.
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PreS-K–This stunning “counting book thriller” features a hungry fox and tasty hens. Each number appears on a spread. For example, the words “1 famished fox” appears opposite a brilliantly colored fox curled in on itself, eyes peering off the page toward an as yet unrevealed prize. The count continues as the fox slinks forward, obviously lurking behind “3 plump hens” heading toward their hen house. The fox, its “4 padding paws” shown in the top half of a spread, follows. With “6 silent steps” it seems to engulf the hen house, its exaggeratedly long tail curled in the foreground. It knocks, and a page turn reveals the googily eyes of the three hens and their predator, whose sharp teeth flash in the dark interior. Feathers fly, the fox opens its wide mouth, and all seems lost until page turns provide welcome relief. Not three, but 100 “angry hens” chase the fox right back to being “1.” Collage and paint in the mixed media illustrations create the various red-orange-gold hues of the fox’s dazzling coat. White backgrounds give way to dark ones as the suspense builds. A striking double bleed depicts multicolored hens, their pursuit continuing onto the next page, where the fox appears as a tiny horizontal blur.
VERDICT Just the right amount of tension, delicious vocabulary such as “sly,” “plump,” “famished,” and “snug,” and alliterative phrases make this a first purchase for group and one-on-one sharing. Count on requests for many readings.

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