Goodreads: Scary Stories for Young Foxes
Seven young foxes gather round to hear a scary story. But will the heroes, Mia and Uly, make it through unscathed? The kits cannot bear to find out. Will any of them stay long enough to hear the end?
Scary Stories for Young Foxes is a book rather unlike any I have ever read. The framing story features seven young foxes who want to hear a scary tale, so their mother sends them to the storyteller. But what they hear is so frightening, they each begin to leave, one by one. The storyteller’s tale is actually a series of short stories, or perhaps it might be thought of as a serial tale, with each segment ending in a cliffhanger or at least a foreboding sense that the good times cannot last long. The marriage between the framing story and the internal story creates a deliciously meta book about the power of words and the tales we tell. Scary Stories for Young Foxes may sound like it is only frightening for woodland critters, but human readers will be afraid to turn the lights out, too.
What I really loved about Scary Stories for Young Foxes is that it makes the worries of foxes seem so immediate. The tale opens with a horrible story of a yellow disease overcoming the foxes one by one. They try to flee, but cannot seem to outrun the yellow. Human readers will understand the foxes have gone rabid, but, seen through the eyes of a fox, there is only the terrible transformation into an unthinking, biting creature. Zombie foxes. Yeah, I was terrified. And I’m not a fox.
The book continues in this terrifying vein, but the most affecting horrors of the tale ultimately turn out not to be the monsters the young foxes fear in the woods, but the cruelty of friends and family. Mia and Uly, the protagonists of the storyteller’s tale, face abandonment, mockery, and abuse from animals they trust. This makes the story almost unbearably dark, and certainly a serious work adults may want to discuss with their children. Don’t write this story off just because it’s about animals we tend to find cute.
Scary Stories for Young Foxes may seem like a weird or unusual book. It may seem so unusual, readers may overlook it, just because it is difficult to categorize. However, the extreme originality of the book is part of what makes it worthwhile to read. This, along with the heartwarming heroism of the protagonists, the action-packed plot, and the creepy atmosphere that envelops the whole, make Scary Stories for Young Foxes a must-read for fans of middle-grade literature.