Maybe a Fox

by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee

At the top of their dad’s “do not” list is “do not go near... read more

At the top of their dad’s “do not” list is “do not go near the Slip,” a dangerous section of the nearby river that surges underground. But 11-year-old Jules and 12-year-old Sylvie have gone to the Slip tons of times, usually to throw “wish rocks.” One morning, fast, impulsive Sylvie dashes off to throw a rock and falls in by accident, drowning. The loss is devastating. Jules relied on Sylvie for a lot of things, including memories of their mom, who died when they were young. Her grief is aching and raw, even as Sylvie sometimes drove her crazy, especially with her need to always run fast. Why? Sylvie never explained. Now it seems she never can. At the same time Sylvie died, a fox cub was born nearby. Terra is kennen, an animal spirit guide. The kit isn’t sure what her purpose is; she only knows she has one. As she grows, Terra senses it is tied to the girl she sometimes sees, and who sometimes sees her. A climax that is both extraordinary and immensely satisfying on the story level brings Jules and Terra together in a way that is fated, but the novel’s use of magical realism is never a means of avoiding the weight of grief. That the weight eventually begins to alight is not because of Terra, but because of time, and a discovery that confirms how much Sylvie loved Jules. (Ages 8–12)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2017

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