Stone Fox

by John Reynolds Gardiner

Paperback, 2010



Call number




HarperCollins (2010), Edition: Reissue, Anniversary, 96 pages


Little Willie hopes to pay the back taxes on his grandfather's farm with the purse from a dog sled race he enters.

User reviews

LibraryThing member bplma
When grandfather has an apparent stroke, 10 year old Little Willie finds himself the sole caretaker of both Grandfather and the farm. In danger of losing the homestead and against all advice, Willie and his pet, Searchlight, enter the dogsled race in order to win the prize money and pay off the
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taxes on the farm. He is up against Stone Fox, the mysterious Native American who has never lost a race. Stone Fox needs the money to buy back land stolen from his people. Well written and fast paced, this book pulls you in and keeps you interested through the exciting race and its surprising ending--which Gardiner says was presented as a true story. A winner!
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LibraryThing member cmbohn
So I was like 10 pages from the end when my daughter comes home from school and sees me reading. She says, "Oh, that's a sad book." Thanks a bunch!

She was right. It was sad.
LibraryThing member Kaylinn_Hall
Stone Fox was a book about a little boy who lives with his grandfather and dog on their farm. One day, grandfather became ill, and the doctor said he was ill because he did not want to live anymore. The boy, Little Willy, was determined to find out why. He figured it was because they were broke. So
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he harvested the potatoes and thought that once they were sold and they had money, his grandfather would be better. Yet, he was not, he soon found out that the reason his grandfather was ill was because they owed 500 dollars in taxes and if they were not paid they were coming to take the farm. Well, Willy entered a dog sledding race with his dog and the reward was 500 dollars. The whole town rooted for him, but there was an indian named Stone Fox that had entered the race, and he had never lost a race before. As the race began, Willy was winning until the very end, Stone Fox was neck and neck with Willy. His dog, Seachlight, ran as hard as she could, and pulled ahead, but all of a sudden fell over and died because her heart burst. Stone Fox stoped and help the dog and told Willy she was dead. Stone Fox heald everyone back, while Willy carried his dog over the finish line . They won and Grandfather was better once again.

I really enjoyed the book, I was really sad to find out the dog died. This book would be good for children to know how important it is to work hard, and to help children with death.

I think one good idea for the students to do as they read along in the book is to keep a journal about the book. This journal would be split up into chapters, and in each chapter they would summarize it and add their feelings and ideas. Another idea for an activity would be to have the children write a short story about one time when they worked hard to help someone out, and how they felt afterwards.
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LibraryThing member khiley1
Ten year old Willy is a determined young man who is bound to help is Grandfather find the will to live and save is potato farm, by racing in a dogsled race agains Stone Fox, an Indian who has never lost a race. The book brings to life the relationship that forms between a young boy and his dog, and
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his determination to never give up even in the face of great odds. It is a beautful book to use with a group of students betwee 3-5 grade. I highly recommend it to teachers and to families to enjoy together.
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LibraryThing member Heather19
*warning! spoilers!*

Okay, I admit it, this was a good book. I didn't expect it to be... It does have some qualities that are common with all the other dogsled-race books out there, and I didn't think it would be much different. But it was so wonderful. And of course I cried at the end. The
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wonderful dog gave it all she had, and died before reaching the finish line... And my heart sank, it was over. But Stone Fox knew Willy deserved that win, and he made it happen. It was so awesome!
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LibraryThing member michelleramos
This book is about a young boy whose only family is his elderly grandfather. They live on a potato farm and they heavily rely on the harvest to make ends meet. One day the grandfather gets very ill and is no longer able to communicate. Willy is forced to become the man of the house and try to save
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his grandfathers farm. With the towns support, the love of his grandfather and the help of a very special dog, Searchlight, Willie will enter the race of a lifetime.
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LibraryThing member jepeters333
A boy tries to save his grandfather's farm.
LibraryThing member deltadawn
So much is packed into this a child deals with an adult who checks out of the world; how pride keeps us from asking others for help; how determination can take us so far but often it comes down to needing someone else's help to finish our task. There is also a lesson on potato farming
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and dog sledding. In the midst of all of this is a touching story that brought tears to my eyes.
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LibraryThing member SadieReads
"Stone Fox" is the story of a boy and his dog who work together to save his farm. After years of not paying taxes, Grandfather is in trouble of losing his farm. He all but gives up on life, no longer getting out of bed or eating much. When little Willy learns of the need to raise $500 to pay the
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taxes, he decides to enter himself and his ten-year-old dog in a sled race. So intent on saving his grandfather and his farm, not even the thought of racing against the legendary Stone Fox can deter little Willy from racing. His undying belief in his dog, Searchlight, convinces him he will win. But can he defeat the Stone Fox and his team of Samoyed sled dogs?
I did not like this book at all. I know that's not a popular take, but it's true. The writing was simplistic and lacked detail. The characters were underdeveloped which caused me not to take any interest in them at all, particularly Grandfather. Furthermore, I'm not generally a fan of animal books, especially when the animal dies. However, as an animal book, the story accomplished its mission of showing the devotion of a pet towards its owner. Searchlight's heart bursts as she desperately tries to get little Willy and the sled over the finish line to finish the race. It also shows the devotion of people towards animals, both in the way little Willy loved Searchlight and in the way Stone Fox made sure little Willy was able to take Searchlight across the finish line. Appropriate for 3rd grade and up.
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LibraryThing member Jdonldsn
Where there is a will there is a the saying goes and this is the main thread running through this tale of love and devotion between family (even when the child must pay for the mistake of the adult) and between dogs and their owners.
Classroom Use: Discuss taxes and too bring it down to a
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child's perspective use pennies and have students purchase squares of the classroom as their land but make them pay taxes.
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LibraryThing member thmazing
I used to read this book periodically to make sure I was still emotionally alive. And I cried every time. But I haven't read it now since 1999. I wonder if I'm still okay......
LibraryThing member benuathanasia
I found the character of Grandfather to be positively contemptible. The book was poorly named and the prize for the race seemed a bit too "deus ex machina" for my taste.
Other than that, Little Willy and Searchlight were adorable. It is a very simple, quick read that I found perfect for my special
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education children.
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LibraryThing member etwinney
A classic tale about a boy names Little Willy who enters into a dog sled race with his long time dog and friend, Searchlight in order to win $500 to pay the back taxes on his grandfathers farm (who refuses to get out of bed). The book ends with Searchlight dying during the last leg of the race and
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Willy carrying him across the finish line as Stone Fox (their biggest competition) stops the other racers from crossing a line in the snow.
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LibraryThing member CLDoyle
This book is appropriate for grades 3-6. This book has not received any awards. This book is about a little boy named Willy who enters a dogsled race to save his grandfather's farm from tax collectors. This book is named after another racer in the book, Stone Fox. Uses in the classroom for this
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book would be to ask children what they would do in this certain situation and ask them to write in their journals about ways they would save someone's land from being taken away, as if they were Willy.
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LibraryThing member gjchauvin504
This was one of the first chapter books I have ever read. The exciting story about the boy racing his favorite sled dog to get prize money to save the family farm was gripping. Not too hard or too long either. Even though I am a grown-up now, the ending surprised me and moved me. It was exciting,
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and it made me think.
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LibraryThing member TylerSmith
Summary: This story is about a young boy who fought to save the farm he grew up on. Young Willy lived with his grandfather on a potato farm and his grandfather became very ill. He could not do anything besides lay in bed so Willy was forced to run the farm by himself. When he found out that his
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grandfather owed $500 for taxes he knew he had to do something. he enters an adult dog sled race and is racing against a legend, Stone Fox. Willy and his one dog, Searchlight, are neck and neck with Stone Fox at the end and then instantly Searchlight's heart burst before the finish line and died. Stone Fox stopped all the other racers and let Willy finish the rest of the race by walking and Willy won the money from the race.
Genre Critique: This story is an example of a legend because the story is based on an old legend of a boy who races to save his farm and his dog ends up dying during the race. Its a story that while small details, such as characters changing, has been passed down.
Character critique: Willy in this story was a very dynamic character. While at first he was a young boy just helping his grandpa run a farm he was suddenly forced to take the responsibility of a man and run an entire farm by himself along with take care of his grandfather as well. he shows a change of maturity and uses obstacles to help him get what he needs to help his grandfather get better.
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LibraryThing member KarenNunez
When ten-year-old Willy finds out that his grandfather could lose his farm, he decides to raise the money by entering a sledge race with his dog. Willy would be in a race with some of the toughest competitors around. However, Willy knew he had to try to save his grandfather’s life and will to
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live as well as the farm. This book is well written and a good book for 3rd through 5th graders to read and discuss. As a teacher, I would touch on the setting of the book and teach about Wyoming and its geography. As well as bring in informational resources and teach encyclopedias and atlases. I highly recommend this book.
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LibraryThing member trequan11
Tickets ride
Have you ever been adopted? Gary Paulsen is all about wilderness. Lottie and Billy were heading west in search of Francis parents but on the way there. They saw a died mule and some Mexican. My favorite character is Francis because he is brave he has a shot gun and he rides horses. It
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was hot in organ. I recommend this book to people who had to search for their parents. this is one of my favorite books.

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LibraryThing member ginger72
Such a good book yet so depressing. AND the ending. UGH ! It didn't hold my 9 years olds attention but I enjoyed it. The subject was a little heavy and sad and of course, left me in tears :(
LibraryThing member AleashaKachel
Little Willy can't figure out why his grandfather won't get out of bed until the doctor tells him that his grandfather has simply lost his will to live. Little Willy soon finds out the reason why is they are at risk of losing their farm to tax collectors but he has a plan to win a dog sled race
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with his dog Searchlight that would award enough money to save the farm. This is a relatively simple tale with a major twist that will leave readers shocked. The repetition, short sentences,occasional illustrations and relatively simple language mean this is a great first chapter book for early readers aged 7-9.
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LibraryThing member Ekelle8
I really enjoyed this story for a few reasons. The first reason was that the story was well written and could easily be read by a third or fourth grader without much assistance. Also I liked that the story had a lot of twists and turns, but I was still able to keep up with everything when I read
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this when I was nine years old. Lastly I liked that the story taught the reader a lesson that was useful in everyday life. I am not going to tell you what the lesson is because you have to read the book yourself to find out. That is what I enjoyed about Stone Fox.
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LibraryThing member Salsabrarian
Well! The sudden ending certainly got me verklempt! It seemed emotionally manipulative and the portrayal of Stone Fox the Indian is a bit touchy in this day and age. But Little Willy's Disneyesque earnestness and the compelling story action actually make it work, even though part of me feels like
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it shouldn't. Go figure!
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LibraryThing member Cheryl_in_CC_NV
Of course I read this when I was in teacher-training, and at least one of my sons read it with his class, but I decided to see if I like it on it's own merits, as a reader with my own interests.  And I do.  Imo, it's just as exciting and moving outside the school setting as it can be inside (with
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the right teacher, like Horrible Harry's teacher).  Concise - lots of powerful ideas in a very short book.  Definitely not obsolete (though it is historical fiction and a few words & ideas might need to be explained).
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LibraryThing member SheilaDeeth
Evocative black and white illustrations enhance a simply told story, recreating a simpler world of the past, where small boys could try to save the family farm and neighbors would do all they could to help. Willy’s grandfather has always cared for him. But now it’s Willy’s turn and he’ll do
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anything he can to bring his grandfather's mind back from the brink. But powerful banks conspire against him, and there’s only way Willy can raise the necessary money. Unfortunately someone else needs that money too. So how will need and luck play out?

The story pulls the reader in right from the start. Willy’s kindness shines through. And Willy’s dog is truly delightful. But things weren’t always easy even in simpler times, and good people didn’t always win. The end of the race stays in doubt until the final pages as words fly by.

Tragic, beautiful and kind, Stone Fox is a story to linger in the mind of young readers, inspiring questions, thought and hope.

Disclosure: A good friend knew I’d love it and she was right.
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LibraryThing member HeatherLINC
Stone Fox was a touching story for young readers based on a Rocky Mountain legend. I loved Little Willie's determination to win the ten mile sled race, with the help of his beloved dog, Searchlight, and save his grandfather's farm. Even though I suspected how the book would end, I was desperately
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hoping I would be wrong. It was still a shock when it happened, and so sad. However, I appreciated the way the big Indian, Stone Fox, stepped in and did what he did. A sweet, heart-wrenching read.
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Young Hoosier Book Award (Nominee — 1984)
Sequoyah Book Award (Nominee — Children's — 1983)
Utah Beehive Book Award (Nominee — Children's Fiction — 1985)


Original language


Original publication date

1980 (original text and illustrations copyright)
1983 (First Harper Trophy edition)

Physical description

7.63 inches


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