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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Pax, by Sara Pennypacker (Clementine) is the story of a deeply bonded 12-year-old boy and his pet fox caught up in an increasingly dystopian nightmare. It begins with an act of betrayal as the boy's father forces him to abandon the fox and compellingly describes the two friends' struggle to find each other and make things right. Plenty of bad things happen, from the death of the boy's mom years ago to a crazy, senseless war that destroys everything in its path. Some of the scenes (e.g., the car speeding away, leaving a bewildered Pax in the woods, or a deer wandering into a field and being blown to bits by a land mine) may be too much for sensitive kids. But the story, set in a nameless country, also offers strong positive messages about knowing yourself, doing what you know to be right, and doing your best to fix things if you've done wrong.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In an unnamed country, 12-year-old Peter and the fox he's raised from a kit have been inseparable in the five years since Peter's mom died and left him with his often-angry father. But now a war looms, Peter's dad has enlisted, and he's forcing Peter to abandon PAX in the forest and go hundreds of miles away to live with his grandfather. Peter quickly realizes he's done the wrong thing and sets off to find Pax, who for his part is bewildered but determined to reunite with his boy. As the two make their perilous journeys, they encounter kind souls and happy communities, all about to be swept up by the war that's destroying everything in its path.
Is it any good?
Horrific, infuriating, and uplifting by turns, this riveting tale of previously inseparable friends torn apart by war and betrayal will have readers breathless to the last heartrending page. It's not for the faint of heart, depicting a world of horrors that threaten to engulf everything good, kind, and beautiful, making its point with such scenes as a magnificent deer grazing in a meadow and stepping on a land mine.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about stories of kids and their loved ones (human or animal) torn apart by circumstances beyond their control. Why is this such a popular theme? Which others have you read or seen in the movies?
Have you ever done something wrong, realized it, and tried to make it right? What happened?
If you had to get somewhere 300 miles away as fast as possible, what would you do? How would you plan the trip? How would you get there? Who might help?
- Author: Sara Pennypacker
- Illustrator: Jon Klassen
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Wild Animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Balzer + Bray
- Publication date: February 2, 2016
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 288
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
Themes & Topics
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For kids who love coming-of-age and animal stories
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.