Review: Pax by Sarah Pennypacker

paxPax is the timeless tale of a fox and his boy, of war and peace, of the things we keep and those we leave behind.

War is coming to Peter’s country, and he is evacuated to a town hundreds of miles from home to his grandfather’s house. His father, who is going away to war, forces Peter to abandon Pax (his fox) in the forest as they leave.

What follows is a timeless tale of loyalty, growth, and heartbreak, as Peter deals with the guilt of what he has done in abandoning the range fox to nature.

I’ll admit, this wasn’t the book I expected. It’s a really intense story with lots to unpack and think over – perfect for high ability 11+ children to discuss in guided reading or for children who enjoy meaty books with lots to consider. Sarah Pennypacker has created some truly memorable characters here, from playful Runt, whose tale will delight and horrify in equal measure, to Vola, the mysterious veteran who lives in the woods. Her foxes behave like real animals, and their takes are cleverly told so that you never forget what they are.

Klassen’s gorgeous illustrations shouldn’t be overlooked here either – they enhance the whole tale and give it that extra something that just makes it jump out of the page. They’re haunting, and yet still familiar, which is how this book feels in general – it could be set in the past or near future and you really wouldn’t know, but that’s part of the charm!

I’d definitely recommend adding Pax to your to-read pile this winter. Who knows, perhaps it’ll resonate with you too. Other similar books for readers who like this one include Siberia by Ann Hallam, The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo, The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell, or perhaps even some of Megan Rix’s books (though those are pitched a little younger).

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