Scary Stories for Young Foxes

Scary Stories for Young FoxesInspired By Bram Stoker, H P Lovecraft And Edgar Allen Poe, A Portrait Of Survival And A Tale Of FriendshipThe Haunted Season Has Arrived In The Antler Wood No Fox Kit Is SafeWhen Mia And Uly Are Separated From Their Litters, They Discover A Dangerous World Full Of Monsters In Order To Find A Den To Call Home, They Must Venture Through Field And Forest, Facing Unspeakable Things That Dwell In The Darkness A Zombie Who Hungers For Their Flesh, A Witch Who Tries To Steal Their Skins, A Ghost Who Hunts Them Through The Snow And Other Things Too Scary To MentionFeaturing Eight Interconnected Stories And Sixteen Illustrations Christian McLay Heidicker s middle grade novel, a thrilling portrait of survival and an unforgettable tale of friendship. Sighs why was this book not there when I was a kid playing on the moist and fresh grass, jumping in pools and shooting my brothers with water guns, tackling my poor friends and burying them under mounds of fallen leaves left in the park, and attacking the passerby with ruthless snow bullets Hmm Why wasn t it there Alas, do not despair, the child in me is quite active, thank you, and is currently shouting at me to add this book And since she cannot be contained and I also have a tendency to indulge my inner 10 year old self against whom I am utterly powerless, I m adding this book to my tbr and my calendar, because there is nothing quite precious than a well written and masterfully woven tale of scary truths of the world and hope for children I love foxes I just I love them so much, guys So every time I find a picture book about foxes, or there s a fox in any kind of book I have to have it, and I m so excited But then often sad Not so much in the picture books, but in the middle grade books where foxes DIE all the time and it s horrible and unnecessary and full of moralizing and all Black Beauty esque Seriously people, WTH Let The Foxes Be I had decided after Pax that I would stick to picture book foxes, but then I found out that my friend, an amazing person and wonderful writer, was writing a book of connected stories about foxes And I love Christian, and I trust him His other two books have been YA, so I got a sense that this was a real pet project or labor of love for him, so I was even intrigued It s called SCARY Stories for Young Foxes, and I don t like horror, but STILL I trusted him, and I was not afraid to beg for an Advanced Readers Copy And I was right to trust Christian.First of all, this book is GORGEOUS Even though it s an ARC and some art might not be final, etc, the style of the art, both on the cover and the interior is perfect There are black pages for the framing story, which adds such great atmosphere And he s just absolutely nailed the fox mannerisms They way they talk and move and describe things feels so real It s a sensory rich book, which really gives you the feeling that this is a story told BY foxes, FOR foxes, and we humans are eavesdroppers And, yes, foxes die Kit foxes Adult foxes Other animals as well But none of the deaths feel gratuitous This book clearly isn t written to have a Big Moral or just to be a Three Hanky Weeper It s a story of adventure, and friendship, and love, and suspense And yes, it s a story about foxes Adorable, wonderful foxes Precious soft foxes who need to be cuddled wipes eyes on fox patterned silk scarf, applies gloss from cute little Japanese fox shaped lip gloss Horror Kids eat that stuff up with a spoon At some point in a human life, a little switch gets flipped in the brain and suddenly, instead of dreading that moment at night when you clutch your bed sheets and pull them over your head, you seek it out And book publishers, realizing that kids love scary stories, have turned them into a neat and tidy little industry How else to explain the popularity of series like Goosebumps or the never unpopular Scary Stories to Tell In the Dark Actually, Goosebumps isn t quite the powerhouse these days that it once was Its gradual release on the industry is now allowing new books to sneak through the cracks Whether it s Jonathan Auxier s The Night Gardener, Katherine Arden s Small Spaces, Tracey Baptiste s The Jumbies, or Adam Gidwitz s A Tale Dark and Grimm series, there s something for every kind of horror fan With all that in mind, a book with a title like Scary Stories for Young Foxes featuring some seriously cute kits on its cover seems like weak tea in comparison Foxes How scary can that get Answer Hoo boy Hold onto your hats folks Turns out, what terrifies a fox can terrify a child just as easily For some readers the fact that everyone here sports red fur will make the horrors a little better For others, much much worse.Seven little foxes are on the hunt for frightening tales Their mother can t provide the shivers they need so it s down to Bog Cavern they go Down to the storyteller who warns them right from the start that what they are about to hear could scare them half to death Then she starts and the tales suck you in In one we meet Mia, a kit whose family falls prey to a dangerous yellow disease Then we meet Uly, a kit with only three paws, and a family so deadly it s a miracle he s alive Seemingly disconnected stories are woven together expertly as Mia and Uly s tales intertwine, separate, and come together again Beware, gentle reader These tales are not for the faint of heart And once you start, you cannot stop until you ve reached the end.One concern I had as I read this book was the danger that Heidicker would play his hand too soon The first tale, Miss Vix kicks things off beautifully, but was it possible that the scariest stories would be front and center and then everything would calm down as the book went on To a certain extent that does happen a little After all, once you ve met the alligator in Kathy Appelt s The Underneath, what can a Golgathursh do for you But then everything picks up again at a furious pace You have something invisible that s stealing your children before your very eyes You have the horror of a zombie paw that can t be escaped You have a badger that says things like, Its sweat will only serve as spice And then there s the fact that Heidicker has the ability to render the banal horrible Now The Wind in the Willows and Peter Rabbit will always send a small chill down my spine So long, innocent childhood All of which is well and good but I would be amiss in not mentioning that Mr Heidicker turns out to be a very good writer There s a restrained humor at work, like on the very first page where you have a patient fox mother asking her kits in what I consider a moment of admirable restraint to please stop biting my face children There are beautiful descriptions, like the first sentence of the first chapter The sun was only just peeking over the peachleaf trees, but the heat was already crisping the leaves and steaming the creek and making the dying fields too bright to look at Or descriptions that are short and sweet and to the point Her mom s voice caught, like it had hooked on a thorn The older I get, the I admire children s novelists that take time to stop and invoke, even when they re in the thick of their plotting.I think a lot about what our fiction teaches kids today To do that, I like to see how books connect to one another Now the most obvious book to pair this one with is the aforementioned A Tale Dark and Grimm by Gidwitz The similarities are undeniable After all, both start out with fairytale like stories that can be seriously frightening and that seem disparate but that come together as the novel progresses A series that may be less obvious to hand alongside Heidicker s is Lemony Snicket s A Series of Unfortunate Events Look at all three writings and a common theme emerges Middle grade fiction has always found parents and guardians to be unnecessary to adventuring, so they usually make the heroes orphans But what these three creations do that is insidious is tell us in no uncertain terms that if you are a child you cannot count on the adults in your life to protect you If you are going to survive, don t expect mommy and daddy to hold your hand You need to be smart, quick, slick, and to pay attention You need to use other people s prejudices against them Most of all, you need to keep going, even when things get abominably difficult You re on your own kid It s a good thing Embrace it.You can tell a lot about a book by its villains Are they three dimensional or just soulless killing machines In a book of this sort, you ve a wide array from which to choose Do you consider the yellow disease to be a villain Or the Golgathursh There are a couple faceless baddies like that, but for the most part the bad guys that we get to know show all kinds of different sides to us Take, for example, the only human in this book Pretty much the moment Heidicker turned Beatrix Potter into the stuff of nightmares, I officially fell in love with this book Her motives are pretty pure and I m sure there will be plenty of folks who take issue with the characterization, but as far as I m concerned this marvelous fictionalized Potter is every inch the villain we need She is not without her reasons for why she does things, but at the same time she s all the terrifying for those moments when she gains our sympathy Worse than Potter, however, is Uly s father, Mr Scratch a.k.a Mr Toxic Masculinity The beauty of his rendering is that he s just as physically threatening as he is emotionally dangerous We do get a chapter where we see into his brain, and it offers us an understanding sans sympathy for this big bad For me, he s best when he s insidious Mr Scratch s grooming of Mia, for example, holds an element to it that adults will cringe from for reasons different than kids Not many cult leaders in kidlit Fewer still smelling of lavender.At the end of this book, there is a small explanation about why we tell scary stories In the case of the foxes, it s to protect the young ones from a world they have yet to fully inhabit Is that what we do with our own kids and books like this one The horrors found here don t have direct correlations to human life all the time, but that doesn t make them any less terrifying Why do kids love horror so much Why do we provide them with new scares every year Is it to keep them safe, as the storyteller in this book implies Maybe in a way, but perhaps it has to do with the way in which a good story embeds itself into your cranium Everything we read as children sticks somewhere, whether we remember the exact words or not When kids read horror novels, they learn that villains can be escaped, beaten, outwitted, outrun The ending of this book is happy, but in such a way that you understand that that happiness might be fleeting No, little children You cannot depend on adults to protect you What you can count on is stories like this one, to give you the tools you need when the world lets you down Terrifying and wonderful A nightmare book you ll want to return to repeatedly.For ages 10 and up. I can t describe just how much I love this book It reads to you like you re one of the foxes, listening to the sage storyteller You travel through tall grass, wind between trees in the forest, smell purple, jump over large barriers, and feel everything Mia and Uly feel Each story has a distinctness, and also carries a thread from beginning to end I haven t cried at the end of a book as much as I did with this one Tears of joy and sorrow But mostly feeling like I immediately missed reading about my friends. Eager for scary stories, six fox kits sneak away from their den in the Antler Wood and make their way to Bog Cavern, where the old storyteller regales them with the tale of two young foxes, born of different families, whose youthful misfortunes bring them together When all of Mia s siblings, as well as her tutor Miss Vix are stricken by the yellow disease, she and her mother set off into exile, only to become separated when they run afoul of an unexpected human enemy, in the form of view spoiler Beatrix Potter hide spoiler You want to know what I really thought of this book Okay, fine It s the best damn book Heidicker has written to date I ve read his other two books and I knew he was good, but this one is timeless People should be talking about this book many years from now It feels like an old tale, something that is both terrifying and familiar, it gets to the heart of what fear is for a young and powerless person who is looking at the world through child size lenses.At the same time, it feels fresh and hip Dammit all, Heidicker You didn t just do it again, you did a doozy this time. I got my hands on an Advance Reader s Edition, and wow I m not going to say much, out of fear of spoiling something, so I ll leave it at this Terrifying Funny.Edge of the seat thriller.Courageous.Heartbreaking.Heartwarming.Incredible use of language that puts me 100% into the minds of these poor fox kits Stayed with me long after the read A new addition to my list of all time favorite books. Thank you to Macmillian and Edelweiss for proving an E arc in exchange for an honest review. Scary Stories for Young Foxes is both chilling and tender I devoured it and loved every bite. Brilliantly written I started reading and only stopped when I went to get a hoodie and blanket to keep from shivering the scary story kind of shivering where you curl up under a blanket and peek out because you have to know what happens next For some reason, I expected this book to be well NOT scary I had to keep reminding myself that I am not a young fox, and badgers and steel traps and humans are not that scary And yet, these young foxes fight for survival feels incredibly real The book is divided into eight sections, each with its own short chapters It is told from the point of view both of a young fox listening to a wise older fox share scary bedtime stories, and from the view of the young foxes in the older fox s stories As the stories weave together, threats increase A word to the wise these stories are not for children who are faint of heart Fearless children and grown ups who love shivery tales will eat this up and ask for Semi spoiler alert, to help parents and teachers decide if this is right for your young kits Foxes both young and old die, family members are sometimes cruel and sometimes kind as they are in the wild and in civilization Some foxes survive, but many do not The ending is a little sad, but mostly happy Heidicker opens the door for discussion on a variety of topics including wildland conservation, abuse, hunting, survival of the fittest, and the power of storytelling to transmit understanding from one generation to the next In the end, Heidicker brings all the story s threads together in an unexpected way, leaving readers with a greater respect for nature and a cozy feeling of wanting to hug those you love and thank your lucky stars you were not born a young fox