This was selected for our mother-daughter book club for the month of January. I would never choose a book like this on my own, but often that is what book club is all about! And this particular book is very much adored by the girl who chose it and according to her she has read it at least 10 times.
The story here is simple – we follow a little red fox named Vulpes from the day of his birth and beyond as he grows up, explores the woods, learns to hunt, finds a mate, eventually has cubs of his own, and (most importantly) tries to evade humans. The author (husband of renowned author Jean Craighead George) paints a truly beautiful picture here. He never overly anthropomorphizes the animals – although he does assign some not-so-convincing emotions/motivations to Vulpes at times. You will have a hard time convincing me that a fox actually enjoys being chased down by a pack of dogs.
Both the strength and weakness of this book is its leisurely pace. It will absolutely charm some people and it will bore others completely stiff. We actually joked at the book club meeting that none of us felt we could read it at bed time for this reason. I myself didn’t mind the slow pace, but I can’t say that I particularly enjoyed all the discussion of hunting and trapping at all. There was one chapter in particular that I found almost unbearable to read. That rarely happens to me as I am not a particularly squeamish reader.
All in all, a unique book I’m glad that I read and I’m glad my daughter got to experience.
Note: The digital edition of this book contains really lovely illustrations (I believe done by Craighead George) as well as a biography and some really neat photos. Also, all the animal names in this book come from taxonomic nomenclature. That made for a cool discussion at book club!