'Pax' has been on my bookshelf for a while, and I've only now got round to reading it. Why? This is such an exquisitely told story; full of warmth, humour, humility and beauty. It deserves to be on every child's bookshelf. And read.
At the request of his father, Peter has to release his pet fox Pax into the wild. It is a great mistake. As Peter's father heads off to war, close to home, Peter is forced to live with his grouchy granddad. Deciding that he needs to find his fox, Peter sets off on a trek to rescue him. But nothing goes to plan, and the war is coming closer.
My first thoughts about this wonderful story is Sara Pennypacker's expert descriptions of both foxes and the natural world. To split the narrative viewpoint between Pax and Peter is brave, but Pennypacker handles it beautifully. How she captures the behaviour of Pax and the foxes he meets is beyond me - it is masterly. Everything feels so delicate; Pennypacker creating a living ecosystem of descriptive writing. Not only that, but she also manages to capture the interplay between human characters and foxes with nuance and compassion. While the story seems to be centred on the relationship between Pax and Peter, it is actually the growing connections that they make with their own species that are heartwarming, charming and subtle. Peter with Vola. Pax with Bristle. These relationships make up the heart of this book.
'Pax' should have greater attention than it deserves. For children, there is so much here to discuss and love. If you haven't read it, get on and do so!