Pennypacker, Sara. Pax. Jon Klassen, Illus. Fiction. Balzer & Bray, 02/2016. 278pp. $16.99. 978-0-06-237701-2. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 4-8.
Twelve-year-old Peter’s father is headed off to war, and this requires the separation of Peter and his beloved fox, Pax. Complex family dynamics and the development of a personal identity permeate this contemporary remix of the traditional boy-and-dog story. Pennypacker’s significant research on foxes pays off, as Pax’s voice feels fully authentic, and the reader is just as vested in the other foxes that become family along the way. Klassen’s b&w drawings enhance the somber mood of the plot. Pax is a significant departure from Pennypacker’s previous books, dealing with serious themes and with none of the humor fans have considered her trademark, and fully demonstrates her broad range of talent.
Beth Gousman, Montclair School