Sunny Solomon Book Review

Book Review—Lessons in ‘Pax’ for all ages

Book Review—Lessons in ‘Pax’ for all agesSunny Solomon Book ReviewTwo things compel me to pick Sara Pennypacker’s kids’ book “Pax” for my November review.

First, the story and writing make it one of those crossover novels that will be treasured by both young readers and adults. Secondly, because of the stress on both sides of the political aisle at this election time, I decided we need something to calm us in these troubled days.
“Pax,” the story of a young boy and his pet, a fox rescued as a kit, is that special book.

Pennypacker has accomplished the feat of giving voice to an animal without words coming from that animal. Her writing is superb.
The story opens: “The fox felt the car slow before the boy did, as he felt everything first.” The boy is Peter; the fox is Pax. Peter’s father is driving the car, headed for the woods.

“Through the pads of his paws, along his spine, in the sensitive whiskers at his wrists,” Pax begins to sense danger. Peter already knows what is coming. His father is going off to war, Peter must now go to his aged grandfather’s and Pax must be returned to the wild.
“Pax” is not a fable. War, betrayal and fear of the unknown for both Pax and “his boy” make up the heart of this story.

Finding the way back

A brutal conflict over water occurs near Peter’s home, near the river and woods where Pax is abandoned, and 300 miles from the grandfather’s house where Peter is left. Peter only wants to find his way back to the side of the road where he threw a toy for Pax to chase before they drove off. Pax only wants to get back to the side of that road and wait for his boy to return.

Pax was a parentless kit only 16 days old when found and brought home by Peter. Left by the side of the road six years later, Pax knew nothing of surviving in the wild. Peter, when left with an aloof grandfather, knew nothing more than what his anxiety told him: “Something bad is going to happen because you aren’t where you are supposed to be.”

Like Pax, Peter’s mother had died, and now without his father, he, too, was parentless. The fox and his boy had never been separated, and Peter knew where he should be.

Peter’s solitary trek to find Pax, and Pax’s search for his boy, lead them both on a journey through an unexpected wildness not only in the woods but also in themselves. What they learn from other animals (for Pax) and people (for Peter) will bring them through the terror of war, the wounding of limbs and the healing of hearts.

It will heal your hearts as well, and I suspect you will want to read its sequel due in 2021.

Sunny Solomon is a freelance writer and head of the Clayton Book Club. Visit her website at for her latest recommendations or just to ‘talk books.’