Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl

This randomly appeared in my mailbox, and it was a perfectly lovely revisiting of some iconic features of one of my all-time favorite authors. We’re missing one familiar element, which is childhood–instead we root for the clever Mr. Fox, his loving wife Mrs. Fox, and four Small Foxes. Our antagonists are appropriately comical and ridiculous: Farmers Boggis, Bunce, and Bean, whose farms respectively produce chickens, ducks and geese, and turkeys and apples. (Bean, the turkey-and-apple farmer, exists entirely on very strong cider.) The wealthy ruling class has too much but still begrudges Mr. Fox the odd poultry to feed his family. Mr. Fox’s wit is generally enough to keep him out of trouble, until the mean farmers band together and trap his family in their den under siege; then our hero will have to turn twice as crafty to save the day, not only for the Fox family but for the other digging critters of the neighborhood (the families Badger, Mole, Rabbit, and Weasel). There is tension and suspense and a final joyous comeuppance for the bad guys. There is a moral lesson: when Badger worries about stealing, Mr. Fox retorts, “My dear old furry frump… do you know anyone in the whole world who wouldn’t swipe a few chickens if his children were starving to death?” Who, indeed? There are also illustrations by Quentin Blake, whose visions of Dahl’s work have always defined my experience of this author, so that’s perfect.

Thanks, Pops. You were right. This was a treat.

Rating: 8 carrots.

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