What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the lessons are a little twisty here, and guns are used, resulting in Mr. Fox losing his tail.
What's the story?
Mr. Fox is in the habit of stealing food for himself and his family from three nearby farmers: chickens from Boggis, ducks and geese from Bunce, and turkeys from Bean. But "all three of them were about as nasty and mean as any men you could meet." Resenting Mr. Fox's thefts, they join forces to kill him.
First they lie in wait outside his den and manage to wound him. Then they begin digging to catch him and his family, first with shovels, and then with machines. Finally they decide to starve him out. But that's when Mr. Fox gets a brilliant idea.
Is it any good?
Roald Dahl has more than his share of classics of 20th-century children's literature. In between his greater works, he tossed off many lesser books, and this is one of those. It's humorous and satisfying, in a straightforward sort of way -- none of Dahl's characteristic wicked cleverness is here. It's good for younger and reluctant readers, or when you're looking for a quick, fun read-aloud.
While this is a very slight story -- clever fox outwits mean farmers -- it provides lots to talk about. Why shouldn't the farmers try to kill the fox who is killing their animals? Is this some British class-consciousness, or does Dahl revel in junior-league subversiveness and messing with parents? Kids won't care -- they'll just love the story, and root for their stand-in, Mr. Fox, to defeat all those mean adults who don't want him to have what he wants.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about what the morals of this story are supposed to be. Why is it good for Mr. Fox to kill chickens, but bad for the farmers to want to kill him? Why is it good for Mr. Fox to steal their chickens, and bad for them to want to stop him? Do you agree with all this?