A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The animals' living habits -- including how they hunt, the age young ones venture out on their own, and the ways they survive winter -- are all scientifically accurate.
Never give up on yourself, be open to friendship, and persevere when things seems scary and out of control.
Positive Role Models
The mother foxes care for and protect their kits with their lives. Uly's dad is horrific, and a stark contrast to the loving confidence of his mom.
Violence & Scariness
Almost a constant stream of terror and peril for the foxes, all within the realm of nature. Young foxes chased from their dens, sibling bullying, death, imprisonment, and the fox version of domestic violence. The father marks his vixens with a bite from their ear. He tells Uly's mom to kill him because he has a deformed leg. She sneaks away to keep all her kits safe. He later tells her he'll let her children live if she abandons them and comes to live in his den. At one point, he has one of her kits in his mouth and is going to kill her if the mom doesn't toss Uly off a cliff.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Our Editors Recommend
Horror Books for Kids and Teens
Children's Books About Animals
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.See how we rate