Grieving the loss of his mother Peter discovered an orphaned fox cub and took him in. Ever since then he and Pax have become almost inseparable. But now war is coming. And Peter’s father says he can’t keep the fox any more, that his grandfather won’t tolerate the animal and as Peter’s father is joining the army that is where Peter will be. So Pax is abandoned at the side of the road, left to fend for himself.
But at his grandfather’s house Peter realises just what it is that he has done, and he can’t live with it. He has to go back and find Pax. Even if it is hundreds of miles away.
It lives up to the wonderful Jon Klassen cover [ref]if you haven’t heard of him check out his picture books. They’re awesome[/ref] in so many ways. Told in alternating chapters, one from Peter’s point of view, the next from Pax’s we get to learn all about their life before the threats of war. The setting itself feels very American but it is an unnamed, imaginary version of America if that is the case. War isn’t something far away here. It is near, and getting closer all the time.
Both Pax and Peter have to learn about that in their own ways.
And both have to learn about independence and come to terms with the realities of the world. Sometimes those are very unpleasant realities, sometimes they show that there is still goodness and kindness out there. It is a beautiful book, but also a heart-wrenching book.