by Sara Pennypacker

Other authorsJon Klassen (Illustrator)
Paperback, 2019

Call number




Balzer Bray (2019), Edition: Reprint, 304 pages


"After being forced to give up his pet fox Pax, a young boy named Peter decides to leave home and get his best friend back"--

User reviews

LibraryThing member stringcat3
Yet another YA novel that anyone can enjoy. Somewhat and deliberately ambiguous in time and place (probably Europe, probably early WW2), this engrossing, ultimately bittersweet story of the connection between a boy and the pet fox he was forced to abandon is at heart an anti-war tale. The chapters
Show More
alternate between the boy's POV and that of Pax the fox. I must say Pax is more interesting because of the foxy things he's now learning as he encounters others of his species for the first time ... it's a vulpine coming-of-age story as well. I heard an interview with Pennypacker on NPR where she described the deep research she did to make sure she didn't have the foxes doing anything un-foxlike. Highly recommended.
Show Less
LibraryThing member john.cooper
Nothing can carry you away like a great book for older children, for kids who need stories to help them with the terrible and exhilarating task of understanding who they are, what values they hold, and what their mission will be in a world that’s more challenging than they could have understood a
Show More
few years ago, or last year, or last month. A slow reader, I picked this book up at about 8:00 pm and didn’t put it down until I finished at two in the morning.

The boy hero of this book has raised a fox, Pax, from a kit since he found it abandoned five years ago, and now his father, who is going off to war, makes him abandon it in the woods before being sent to live with his grandfather. Within hours the boy realizes that not resisting his father (an angry and sometimes violent man) was the first terrible mistake of his life, and he sets out to find his fox—now hundreds of miles away, in sparsely populated country, across deep woods.

Meanwhile, the fox has his own adventures. Never having learned to hunt, he’s nearly helpless in the woods, and although he quickly meets other foxes, the leader of the band has a hatred of humans and deeply mistrusts Pax because of the human scent he carries. The chapters from Pax’s perspective are fascinating and almost completely convincing, one of the best fictional attempts to assume an animal’s point of view. The book alternates between the boy’s story and the fox’s story until the stories converge at the end.

There are big surprises in both stories, and narrative punches are not pulled. Before age 10 (or 11?) I would not have been able to easily handle this book, particularly the scenes in which animals are hurt. After 14, I would have rejected it as too idealistic. It’s not idealistic—like a surprising ally the boy finds on his journey, it’s hard-headed about the decisions one has to make in life and what they cost. If you’re a person who still needs stories to help make sense of life, you’ll want to read this book.
Show Less
LibraryThing member DonnaMarieMerritt
What a beautiful story. On the surface, it's about a boy trying to find his way back to his adopted fox. Deeper, it's about peace, the sickness of war, breaking the cycle of anger and violence, fighting self-imposed demons, surviving and moving on from guilt, self-sacrifice and bravery for the ones
Show More
we love, freedom and choices. The voices of Peter and Pax ring true.

From the book:

What is war?

Gray paused. There is a disease that strikes foxes sometimes. It causes them to abandon their ways, to attack strangers. War is a human sickness like this.

Pax jumped to his feet. The war-sick—will they attack my boy?

War came to the land where I lived with humans. Everything was ruined. There was fire everywhere. Many deaths, and not only of the war-sick, adult males. Children, mothers, elders of their own kind. All the animals. The men who were sick with the disease spilled their chaos over everything in their path.
Show Less
LibraryThing member tapestry100
I don't often say this this, but be warned: this book will give you ALL the emotions.

Told in alternating POVs between Peter, a young boy, and his fox, Pax, the story follows the dual journeys that Peter and Pax undertake to find each other after they are separated when Peter's father goes to war.
Show More
The book is heartbreaking from the first chapter and doesn't really back down with the emotional energy throughout.

Ultimately, this is a story of friendship, love, redemption, and loyalty. I was slightly put off by the ending, but after thinking about it, IMO there was really no other way Pennypacker could have ended the story.

Jon Klassen's accompanying illustrations are a lovely addition to the book.

This is going to be a book that will be sticking with me for quite some time.
Show Less
LibraryThing member JulieStielstra
Overall, a good piece of work. To be admired for its frank approach to heartbreak, fear, love, loss, and resolve. And the illustrations are absolute gems...wish there were more of them! It is DARK, though. It opens with the most desolate of scenes, a boy having to drive away the fox he has
Show More
cherished and cared for through much of his life, and I wondered if I wanted to read the rest. Chapters alternate between the boy and the fox, and both are frightened, in pain, and staunch. The fox is believable - she has clearly done her homework on fox behavior, with allowances for the purposes of the story. I did keep turning pages, though I had a feeling (correct, as it turned out) how this would end. I think Pennypacker made some choices that weaken the book: there is simply too much packed (no pun intended) in here, especially for a middle-grade novel. Dead or coldhearted parents, a hermitic woman, a vague war, PTSD, violent deaths and dismemberments, baseball... It all occurs in an oddly placeless, timeless setting that leaves all these elements a bit afloat in a murky sea. Perhaps this was meant to reflect how confusing and random the world seems to kids, but it needed a stronger anchor to reality. The language is forceful, she pulls no punches, and very admirably refuses to write down to her presumably young readers, which means that older kids and adults will also find this readable and engaging. Sometimes disturbing, confusing, also poignant and brave... An unusual and dark story, but definitely worth the read.
Show Less
LibraryThing member brangwinn
I love stories which are told from an unexpected perspective. In this case there are two perspectives that of a fox who has become a pet and his boy, Peter. When war comes to the unknown country, the father is forced to send his son to live with his grouchy old grandfather. Pax the fox was sent
Show More
back into the wild. When Peter runs away from his grandfather to find Pax, he ends up spending time with a woman who lives alone far from people. Pennypacker shows her vast writing style in this book. Known best for her Clementine books, this book is one that can be read on many levels. On the surface, it’s the story of a runaway boy searching for his pet, but on a deeper level it is about the cost of peace, the real cost of war and about what finding out where home is.
Show Less
LibraryThing member saroz
This was a recommendation and not, frankly, a book I would normally have chosen for myself. That's right: I'm one of those people with PTSD flashbacks from books like Old Yeller and The Yearling and Where the Red Fern Grows. I was warned outright that this book went a bit "dark" - which I suppose
Show More
it does, for mid-grade children's fiction. What I might prefer to say is that it doesn't shy away from reality. In many ways, Sara Pennypacker's book is completely allegorical: it takes place in an unnamed country, during an unnamed war. Pax and his human boy are two of only three fully drawn characters in the novel. Pennypacker's approach works, though: the story hits hard without feeling "messagey," and the stakes are high without feeling overwhelming. In particular, I liked the way she eschewed both the emotionally simplistic Hollywood ending and the overly cynical conclusion you might expect. Instead, she manages to hit a sweet spot: satisfaction without sentimentality, triumph without a return to status quo. A good book, easy to recommend - and, thankfully, not the next Watership Down (in the best possible, least traumatizing sense!).
Show Less
LibraryThing member jothebookgirl
The novel is told through alternating chapters, one of 12-year-old Peter and the other a young fox named Pax. After the death of his mother, we learn Peter had rescued a baby fox from the cold after it's mother is killed and reared it as a pet and have become very close companions. When his father
Show More
enlists in an unspecified war (“It’s heading for our town. They’ll take the river”), Peter is sent to live with his grandfather. His father makes Peter send Pax into the wild, the car speeding away as Pax watches in bewilderment.

Right after moving in with his grandfather, Peter rebels, slipping out in the night to walk 200 miles back to the spot where Pax was released. As he travels on foot, he breaks his foot, encounters characters who help or threaten him. He runs across Vola, a female war veteran with a prosthetic leg who takes Peter in, sets his break and makes him some crutches. Instead of sending Peter back to his not so nice grandfather, she encourages and prepares him for the hard journey to recover his beloved pet, Pax.

I did a lot of skimming in this book to get to something that happens, especially the point of view of a Pax. I thought the events were too convenient such as the ball bat, running into his father, even finding Pax like he did. I don't see how a ball bat taped to the bottom of a broken wooden crutch could hold the weight of a 12 year old boy. The war setting is not implied or stated. Since Peter I believe it was, did say it was a war over water, I wondered if it was a futuristic war. The ending left loose ends and the characters out in the woods.

I don't understand so many rave reviews, and I don't think students will stick with the book to the end.
Show Less
LibraryThing member JRlibrary
I hadn't read anything by this author before now, and I really appreciated her ability to describe the almost unconscious feelings associated with certain events. For example, I'm a ball player, and when she described how Peter felt about being on the ball field, my brain said, "Yes! That's it
Show More
She captures those feelings and describes them perfectly.
Sadly, the cover just did not grab my attention, so this beautiful story sat in my TBR pile for quite a long time before I actually cracked it open. Of course, once I started, I couldn't stop. I loved the characters and the obstacles and even, surprisingly, how it ended. Don't wait... crack it open and get reading.
Show Less
LibraryThing member maggie1944
Written for 10-14 year old readers this is a heart-wrenching tale of a boy and his pet; and his father and war. Pennypacker does a superb job of describing the experiences of this boy in a way which captures both the "coming of age" elements in the story and the much more adult issues of war and
Show More
destruction, both of humans and of the earth. It is also an odyssey of classic proportions with a mythical goddess smack dab in the middle of the story crying to be healed. Read it. Its a good tale, and a well written book.
Show Less
LibraryThing member foggidawn
When Peter's father goes off to war, Peter must go live with his grandfather, and Pax, Peter's pet fox, must be returned to the wild. Peter immediately regrets this course of action, and determines to run away and find Pax. Pax is also determined to return to his boy. But the journey will not be
Show More
easy for either of them...

I knew this story was going to make me cry, and it did. The writing is strong and the characters are well-developed, the pacing is good . . . this has all of the elements of an award-winning book and an instant classic. If you can handle the emotions inherent in this sort of animal story, this is a must-read.
Show Less
LibraryThing member bookwren
Told in alternating chapters through the fox, Pax's, voice and his boy, Peter's voice, this is a children's novel not just for children. Though they are different species, and some unenlightened people might consider Pax a pet, fox and boy are bonded by love and loyalty as strong as that between
Show More
two human beings. Pennypacker elucidates the voices of the two friends with humble respect, and then adds Vola, a woman with a voice of pain and wisdom. Vola's clipped language - "Right." "No." - followed by thoughtful explanations embodies her spirit: sharp at the beginning, and then warmly instructive. Her quotes plastered on index cards are like Zen Koans: "The Gulf Stream will flow through a straw, provided the straw is aligned to the Gulf Stream and not at crosscurrents." When Peter asks what this means, his mentor replies: "It means align yourself, boy. Figure out how things are, and accept it."

Often I love one character over others in a book, but here I loved Pax, Peter and Vola equally. I wish I could meet them. Lovely, heartbreaking, lyrical and hopeful, Pax inspires readers to think deeply about the meaning of peace and the price of war. "Just because it isn't happening here doesn't mean it isn't happening."

Jon Klassen's spare art complements the novel powerfully. I especially love the cover illustrating Pax's intense loyalty and vibrant hope. The final picture radiates love.
Show Less
LibraryThing member WhitneyYPL
A story about a boy and his pet fox. Peter is forced to leave his pet fox, Pax, behind when his father sends him to live with his grandfather. Peter soon regrets leaving Pax behind, and finds himself packing his bags to go in search of his furry friend. His search starts out bad when he injures his
Show More
leg in the forest, but Peter never gives up hope of being reunited with Pax…and along the way he discovers his own strength and determination with the help of an unlikely friend. A coming of age story that is both heartbreaking and full of hope. - SB
Show Less
LibraryThing member ewyatt
An animal book is a difficult sell to me. But I enjoyed this story of Peter and Pax. They are kind of on parallel journeys as they try to reunite for most of the book. In alternating chapters, we learn in their own voices about their trials and tribulations after they are separated. Peter is sent
Show More
to his grandfather's while his dad goes to war and Pax is sent to the forest. The two have been inseparable for years. Peter brought Pax home after the death of his mother.
There is some artwork within the book, but I frequently had a difficult time deciphering the pictures.
Show Less
LibraryThing member EllsbethB
I find myself torn about this book. There are some very captivating moments, and I see why the time and place are not specified. This books addresses a lot of issues and could make for great discussion with kids or adults. I was disappointed when the ending wrapped up so quickly. The few
Show More
illustrations in this books are beautiful and allow you to really see the story.
Show Less
LibraryThing member rjrubylou
Summary: A twelve year old boy is forced to abandon his five-year-old fox kit as his father drops him off to live with his grandfather so that he can go to war. Pax doesn't understand why "his boy" would leave him, and he does everything he can to reunite with him. "His boy" is of the same mind and
Show More
quickly runs away from his grandfather's house in a quest to find his fox. But, he does not get far. He breaks his ankle and finds himself recovering in a reclusive, odd woman's home who makes scary marionettes. Can he trust her? This is a book of desperate love between a boy and his fox attempting to reunite through insurmountable odds.

Personal Response: I was crying by page 3. This book was like reading a mix of Where the Red Fern Grows and Old Yeller in reverse. I debated finishing this book, because I didn't know if I wanted to put myself through the misery. I am so glad that I finished this book! The ending that I yearned for became a reality, and I cried again. I've read several of Sara Pennypacker's Clementine Books, but this one was so far beyond what she has written to this point, it was impressive. Clementine is adorable, but this book was a home run!
Curriculum Connection: This is a perfect book to recommend to those kids that have just finished a survival book, or have read Bridge to Terebithia, Hatchet, Lost Dog, or those books mentioned above. This is a book to put into the hands of all 4th -7th grade students. The discussions that would come from even a read-aloud of this book in the classroom, would be phenomenal. This book is one to talk about to students at the beginning of library time.
Show Less
LibraryThing member mrgan
I picked this up mainly because I'm a big fan of Jon Klassen, the illustrator. It's actually a novel with illustrations, and it made me realize that I hadn't read a novel targeting middle-schoolers in forever. This is a very good one, smart and sad in just the way kids like it.
LibraryThing member St.CroixSue
This is an engaging story of a young boy who has a very close relationship to an orphaned fox he raised from a kit. A war that begins to intrude on his neighborhood forces him to leave the fox in the wild. The story then alternates between the point of view of the fox and the boy as they journey
Show More
back towards each other illustrating power of relationships, loyalty, and growth.
Show Less
LibraryThing member BookConcierge
Audiobook narrated by Michael Curran-Dorsano

From the book jacket Pax and Peter have been inseparable ever since Peter rescued him as a kit. But one day the unimaginable happens: Peter’s dad enlists in the military and makes him return the fox to the wild. At his grandfather’shouse three hundred
Show More
miles away from home, Peter knows he isn’t where he should be … He strikes out on his own despite the encroaching war … to be reunited with his fox. Meanwhile Pax, steadfastly waiting for his boy, embarks on adventures and discoveries of his own.

My Reactions
This is a wonderful tale of loyalty, love, grief and perseverance. The point of view shifts from from Pax’s story to Peter’s experiences by chapters. Both endure significant hardship – Peter suffering guilt for having betrayed his beloved pet, and enduring the rigors of traveling such a long distance alone (and injured). Pax, totally domesticated, has no hunting skills nor the social skills he needs to get along with the wild foxes he encounters. And then there is the war … roads are blocked, tanks rumble past, woods are mined, shots are fired.

Both Peter and Pax are somewhat distrustful, having lost their faith in others because of the betrayals they’ve suffered. But they come to terms with their own limitations and learn to trust and rely upon others to help them. Both also draw on reserves of strength, courage and perseverance they didn’t know they had to help not only themselves but those around them.

Allison never gives us a location for this book, but it seems to be the United States. This country has been fortunate NOT to have to endure the kind of war depicted on our own soil.

Michael Curran-Dorsano does a marvelous job voicing the audio book. He had a good pace, and it was easy to tell when he was voicing Pax’s point of view vs. Peter’s.

Jon Klassen’s illustrations are also wonderful; they are at once simple and expressive. I’m glad I thought to get the text version as a reference point so I could enjoy his drawings.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Cataloger623
This is a lovely well written story about boy, a fox, a father and disabled war veteran whose paths cross and are the better for the meeting. The story at its heart is a coming of age story seen through the eyes of the boy and the Fox. There are none of tropes that you would think to find in an
Show More
animal meets human story. The actions of the boy and the fox come from the natural behaviors of each. Sara Pennypacker the author and Jon Klaassen the illustrator have combined their talents cowrite a classic story that fathers can read with their sons and moms can read with their daughters. This is an excellent story for those new to reading fiction. This story should become a movie.
Show Less
LibraryThing member jnwelch
In Pax, 12 year old Peter's mother is deceased, and his father tells him he must part from his closest companion, his fox Pax. Peter will live with his grandfather while the father goes off to fight in the war. The parting from Pax, and their subsequent efforts to find each other, are the spine of
Show More
the story. The war is happening all around them, and we see the harm it causes through the eyes of Pax.

Peter is determined to be a better man than his father, and comes upon a war veteran who has isolated herself n the woods, trying to forget her own memories from the war. The bond they form is moving and genuine, and she helps him in his quest to reunite with Pax.

This is beautifully written, with the POVs of the characters, including Pax, believable and page-turning. Pax, having been raised as a pet, has to learn how to survive in the woods, as does Peter in a different way. There are some nice illustrations by Jon Klassen, too. This one has the feel of a classic, and it's well worth entering its world. I'll be giving it as a gift all over the place.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Coffeehag
This is a compelling novel that begins with a heart-rending story of loss and separation. The subsequent journey of self-discovery, determination, and hope is told from two different perspectives, alternating between that of a twelve year old boy and his beloved fox. Both change dramatically by the
Show More
end of the book. I could hardly put this book down.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Salsabrarian
As an unnamed country is on the verge of war, Peter's father forces him to abandon his beloved pet fox Pax. Dropped off at his grandfather's, a guilt-stricken Peter immediately runs away to find his fox. Unfortunately he breaks his ankle on the way back and is taken in by Vola, a loner veteran with
Show More
a prosthetic leg and PTSD.. Meanwhile, Pax waits loyally for Peter's sure return but the realities of living in the wild drive him to hang out with a small pack of foxes who are surer of their place in the forest. In alternating views and under challenging circumstances, boy and fox struggle to find each other. Both are scarred by their journeys which makes for a bittersweet ending: If you love it, set it free. Keep the tissues handy.
Show Less
LibraryThing member debnance
A boy. A wolf. A father who has enlisted in a sudden war.

The boy releases his wolf into the wild and immediately regrets it. He sneaks away from his grandfather's house to attempt to reunite with the wolf. In the process he breaks his leg and meets up with a woman with her own set of issues
Show More
stemming from a war. The wolf, too, meets up with new companions and his own set of adventures.

All this with suitably mysterious illustrations by the wonderful Jon Klassen.
Show Less
LibraryThing member acargile
If you like animal books, you’ll like this novel.

Pax has lived with Peter since he was a kit. Now, Peter has sent him to the wild, and he doesn’t know how to survive. Peter, meanwhile, is sent to live with his grandfather because his father has joined the war. On his first night, Peter realizes
Show More
that he can’t live without Pax, so he leaves to find him.

The novel alternates between Pax and Peter’s points of view as they both struggle and learn new truths about themselves and others.
Show Less




0062377027 / 9780062377029
Page: 0.2256 seconds