Something To Do

Pax by Sara Pennypacker (and an update on the Maryville Foxes)

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{Guest Post from Hannah Rials}
War is coming. This means that everyone must make sacrifices, including a young boys and his pet fox that he’s raised from a kit. Peter leaves Pax along the side of the road. Well, he’s more forced to do it by his father, who is off to join the war. So now Peter is alone, living with his grandfather who has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and doesn’t know how to say a comforting word to his grandson. And everything feels wrong. Peter’s anxiety spikes; he knows he’s done the wrong thing, and now he must correct it.

Peter takes off in the middle of the night with his pack and a map, planning to retrace his steps and find his way back to Pax. Hopefully, the fox hasn’t moved too far away. But a wrench is thrown in his plan, when he falls and snaps a bone in his leg. After trying to make progress on his own with a broken leg, Peter comes across an older woman with a peg leg living alone in the forest. Vola, an ex-soldier and retired medic, takes Peter in, feeds him, sets his bone, and teaches him how to live with one leg, all while learning the truth from this young boy.
Meanwhile, Pax has to learn to live on his own as a wild fox for the first time in his life. Early in his journey, he comes upon a group of foxes that begrudgingly take him in. Bristle, Runt, and Gray become his new family as he waits for his boy to return, if he will ever return.
Both creatures, boy and man, deal with the price of war and the separation it has caused them. They will forever be changed, as will the world around them.Pax by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Jon Klassen is a uniquely original and beautiful tale told from two perspectives–the boy, Peter, and the fox, Pax. I can’t remember reading a book told from the perspective of an animal in which is was not overly personified.
Pax is a fox, a domestic fox, but a fox nonetheless. He has instincts and respects the rules of the forest. It was so interested and heartbreaking to read about the separation. I think many people can relate to a lost pet, but this story takes it in a new direction. Plus, you all know that here, at Jump Into a Book, we love our foxes! Overall this award-winning book touched my heart, and I know it will touch yours too.
When it comes to “fox experience, my good friend and mentor, Valarie Budayr (who also happens to be my publisher!) is the queen! She has a long-time, strong connection with foxes.
The Fox Diaries
It was back in 2009 when the foxes first arrived in her yard.  She has shared with me many times that, after all these years (and many batches of foxes families) she is still enamored with this special connection she feel with these beautiful animals and the interactions she has had with them. This connection inspired her to write and publish her first children’s book, The Fox Diaries-The Year the Foxes Came to our Garden.
The Fox Diaries

Then came Fox Batch #2. And Fox Batch #3 and then Batch #4!

The Fox Diaries

You can read more about the Spring 2013 Fox kits, Smudge, Styx and Skye HERE. Valarie told me that this year (2017) there are not one, but TWO dens of red foxes living on her vast property. Stay tuned for more amazing pictures and foxy fun!

The Fox Diaries

Something To Do
1. Make a Marionette like Vola:
     Vola loves her marionette puppets, even more so when Peter puts on a performance for her. Here’s a tutorial on how to make your own, non-wooden marionette.
 2. Wood Working!
       This might be your next new favorite hobby! Wood working goes back centuries and is not just something you pick up and do. It’s a real craft. Vola had a knack for it, and so, as it seems, does Peter. What about you? There are tons of books and videos that can get you started on wood working so that you can carve your favorite animal or a beautiful bowl, maybe even a door! Here’s a tutorial “Woodworking for Beginners!”

3. Facts about Foxes
    – A group of foxes is a skulk or a leash
    – Foxes are characteristically known for their high leaps used during hunting. It’s the first thing kits learn in the wild.
    – Foxes can hear up to 40 yards away!
    – A male fox is a “dog fox” whereas a female fox is a “vixen”
    – Foxes hide food to eat later (you see Pax do this a lot).
    – Foxes live in dens underground for protection and to raise their litter.
    – A fox can run up to 30 miles an hour. Wow!

**Some of these links are affiliate links. That means if you click and buy, I may get a very small commission. This money goes towards postage and supplies to keep books and ideas in the hands of young readers!

Hannah RialsHANNAH RIALS: A Maryville native and current college student at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Hannah began writing her first novel at age twelve. Eight years later, the result is her new YA novel Ascension; a modern day teenage romance filled with “double-blooded” vampires and revenge-seeking witches. When not spending time with her family and playing with her beloved Corgi, Buddy, Hannah leads a creative group, crafts and cultivates her writing skills. Connect with Hannah on FacebookTwitter and via her website.


Experience the magical story of a family of foxes that took up residence right in the front yard of the author and publisher, Valarie Budayr. The Fox Diaries: The Year the Foxes Came to our Garden offers an enthusiastically educational opportunity to observe this fox family grow and learn together.
The Fox Diaries
From digging and hunting to playing and resting, this diary shares a rare glimpse into the private lives of Momma Rennie and her babies. Come watch as they navigate this wildly dangerous but still wonderful world. Great to share with your children or students, The Fox Diaries speaks to the importance of growing and learning both individually and as a family unit. It is a perfect book for story time or family sharing. Not only can you read about the daily rituals of this marvelous fox family, there is an information-packed resource section at the end of the book that includes lots of facts and even a few “fox movies” that you can enjoy with your family. Grab your copy of this beautiful and inspiring book HERE.