If ‘The Fox and the Hound’ makes you cry, then ‘Pax’ will make you weep. This is a wonderfully written story about the bond between boy and fox, and will have you holding out hope for a happy ending.
The book follows both Peter and Pax, with alternate chapters for each character. Peter has been forced by his father to give up Pax, the fox he has raised and cared for since he was a cub. This is the first instance of sadness in the novel, as Pax doesn’t know the outside world at all. He’s pretty much domesticated, so to be out in the wilderness all alone is a scary thought. Pennypacker makes this fear burst from the page as, chapters later, Pax waits all alone in the woods at night. He’s hungry, cold, and doesn’t know the sounds that are filling the woods.
Both characters meet helpful friends along the way to make their journey back together a lot easier. Peter meets the bold and unfiltered Vola, my favourite character of the novel. She’s carrying a lot of her own baggage, and her character is brilliantly explored as she grows from a hardened, cold individual to someone who softens to teach Peter some great lessons. Pax, meanwhile, meets a fiercely protective vixen named Bristle, and her excitable brother Runt.
Pennypacker has done a fantastic job of making you feel exactly what what the characters are going through; fear, exhaustion, determination. As you continue through the story, you’re desperate for the two characters to reunite so you can release the breath you’ve been holding since the first chapter. Coupled with poignant illustrations by Jon Klassen, ‘Pax’ is written with beautiful description and touching scenes. The fox chapters are the best – and incredibly clever too. We are shown their communication through sniffing, body language, and movement – while their speech is shown via italics. It’s definitely a memorable, yet moving tale, and I’d love to read more of Pennypacker’s writing.
Final thought: A beautifully written yet sad tale of friendship. 4/5 Stars