Scary Stories for Young Foxes: The City

Holt. Aug. 2021. 400p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781250181442.
Gr 4 Up–Heidicker, a Newbery Honor recipient, continues his tale-within-a-tale of curious foxes listening to a horrific, cautionary account of survival told by a mysterious storyteller. Heidicker mixes characters from the first book—Mia and Uly, Mr. Scratch, Golgathursh, Miss Vix, curse of yellow stench—with newcomers such as Fern, the farmer, Cakeface and Treacle, 0-370 and R(A)-211 in new stories about inquisitive foxes longing for adventure. The foxes will discover if the city truly is a paradox of paradise and death worth giving up two meals a day. Eerie pencil sketch illustrations combined with a hauntingly antiquated way of speaking (and some modern slang) allows readers to empathize and visualize the world through the foxes’ perspective. The foxes struggle to explain or piece together universal truths, but aim to protect themselves and help others along the way. This unique title intends to inspire thought about the consequences of human actions on animals and the environment, and paints humans in a negative light that is more terrifying than the first installment. While all humans are not evil, who to trust is a theme throughout. Readers are inspired to research treatment of rabies in foxes and Heidicker’s work could be used as a teaching tool about the importance of vaccinations. While the foxes’ story has closure in The City, Heidicker paves the way for more stories to come.
VERDICT Haunting and frightening nature tales of foxes in the wild and in a city, perfect for fans of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox or Sara Pennypacker’s Pax; would be a wonderful text for practicing inference skills.

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