One of the things that I really like in a children’s book is that it teaches a lesson. The Hungry Fox by Cole Adams does that and much more. The story chronicles a fox’s journey to find food after waking up. Along the way, he makes many mistakes and learns a lesson each time. Each chapter is set up as an interaction with a different animal in the story and a different lesson.
The book itself is visually striking. I love the illustrations. They are mostly in the style of a mosaic pieced together using different geometric shapes. It is a very unique style for illustrating a book. The colors are bright and engaging with a slightly fanciful air.
The layout of the Table of Contents is as unique as the illustrations. It is set up as a map with the chapters laid out as way-points in a journey. Again, in place of what could be a droll portion of the book, the Table of Contents is creative and visually engaging.
The Hungry Fox is written in the style of a fable. Talking animals that are used to teach a moral. In this case, each chapter teaches its own separate moral. In Chapter 1, the fox learns about greed. In Chapter 2, he learns about pride. Chapter 3 is a lesson on honesty. All in all, I counted seven different character traits/lessons in the book.
There is some very high level vocabulary in the book. For example, in the chapter about greed, Adams uses the word avaricious to describe the fox. This is a word that many children would not be familiar with at all. However, being that the entire chapter is about greed, they can use context clues to determine its meaning.
Overall, the story reads well with a continuous and consistent plot structure. The theme is evident throughout.
If I had to label The Hungry Fox as any one genre, I would label it a fable. It has all the classic characteristics of a fable and reads like one as well. This lends itself very nicely to using it in a unit on fables and comparing it to the classic fables such as Anansi the Spider. Doing a comparison/contrast activity with a classic fable would be a very good way to use this book.
Talk about the various character traits/morals that the fox learns along its journey and list them. Have students try to think of other stories/movies that they have read or seen that would teach that same lesson.
I love using reading to spur writing. Once the students have read and compared several different fables, have them write one of their own. Assign the students one of the morals that The Hungry Fox teaches and let them create their story. If some students are more drawn towards visual arts, encourage them to write theirs in a graphic novel type genre.
Select 5-10 of the high level vocabulary words from the book and have the students look them up and write the definition in their own words. Being able to summarize and rewrite things is a huge skill necessary for most standardized tests.
This book simply lends itself very well to discussion. The obvious morals taught in the book are great for prompting discussion with your kids or students. “What did the fox learn about greed?” and “Do you think that this is true in your own lives?” are good examples of possible discussion questions.
Overall, I enjoyed reading The Hungry Fox a lot. Again, I really liked that it was a more modernized version of the classic fable genre. I would definitely recommend using it for a unit on fables. I also really liked that the illustrations were done in a geometric/mosaic style. It would be a fun book for an art teacher to use as a cross curricular aid to incorporate literacy into an art unit as well.
Where to Find It
The Hungry Fox is, I believe, a self-published book. As of now, it is not likely to be on many book shelves at your local Barnes and Noble. However, it is not at all difficult to find on Amazon. Simply search for “The Hungry Fox Cole Adams.” The book is very affordable. The print version is available for 9.99 and the digital price is even less at 2.99. Even better, the author will sometimes put it on Amazon Kindle Unlimited for free at times. Definitely worth a read.
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