A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Christian McKay Heidicker's Scary Stories for Young Foxes, illlustrated by Junyi Wu, is a 2020 Newbery Honor Book. It's a gorgeously written, no-holds-barred set of intertwining horror stories centering on Uly and Mia, two young foxes separated from their litters and in constant fear of death. The book is layered and complex, combining themes of domestic violence, bullying because of a disability, shame, fear, and pain with the deep love between a mother and her kits, and the growing loyalty between friends. None of the violence or pain is gratuitous, though: The hunts, the methods of survival, the dominance of some and shunning of others are all accurate, and the violence is similar to that of realistic nature shows. This book is not an easy read academically or emotionally, but it's intensely rewarding and thought provoking.
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What's the story?
In SCARY STORIES FOR YOUNG FOXES, fox kits Mia and Uly are separated from their litters and find themselves thrown into a dangerous world full of terrifying unknowns as they try to make their way home. Far from their dens, they have to navigate dense forests, open fields, river monsters, and homicidal humans, and other scary monsters that lurk in the dirt and snow. Beyond the environmental treachery, they have to face their own inner demons, the nagging self-doubt and emotional pain inflicted by their own families who might not even want them alive. The book is a collection of short stories told campfire-style to a dwindling number of fox kits, with each story blending into the next.
Is it any good?
Heavy, violent, and thought-provoking, this is the rare horror story that's also heartwarming. Scary Stories for Young Foxes takes readers on a terrifying ride, masterfully combining the feelings of inadequacy and fear that come from being rejected by family with the optimism and courage of young hearts. Uly's father's domination helps readers consider the complicated choices surrounding family violence, and his siblings' bullying because of his disability will hit sensitive readers hard.
Each story is complex and riveting, and while author Christian McKay Heidicker takes some time to get through the first few stories, the pace picks up midway. He weaves the tales together seamlessly, somehow bringing heart and depth to these harsh, terrifying adventures.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Uly's mom made the choices she did in Scary Stories for Young Foxes. What would you do if you were in her situation and had to choose between your children?
Why do you think scary stories are so popular? What's fun about reading horror tales and seeing scary movies?
Have you read any books with human characters who behave the way these foxes do?
- Author: Christian McKay Heidicker
- Illustrator: Junyi Wu
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Wild Animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Henry Holt & Company, Inc.
- Publication date: July 30, 2019
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 12
- Number of pages: 320
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Awards: ALA Best and Notable Books, Newbery Medal and Honors
- Last updated: April 24, 2020
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