Growing up, I had quite a fondness for foxes and I was also very fond of the few Roald Dahl novels I was aware of. As such, I was pretty intrigued by Fantastic Mr. Fox, but for whatever reason, I never got around to reading it. That is, until now.
You may think that by waiting until I was an adult, I might have missed my opportunity to properly enjoy and maybe you’re right, but I still quite enjoyed reading it.
The story follows Mr. Fox as he evades a group of hideous farmers (Boggis, Bunce and Bean) who are trying to kill him because he steals chickens to feed his starving family. I suppose it’s a very simple premise, but it’s quite a short book, so it didn’t need to be more complex. The farmers are a good mixture of comedically ridiculous and genuinely intimidating. I have to admit that I was surprised by how dark it was at times: they’re there with guns, shooting at our cheeky talking animal protagonist and plotting other ways to try and kill him, his wife and his kids. I’m not sure a modern children’s book about a talking animal could get away with this.
Also, even though it may not have been intended by Dahl at all, I like to see it as an anti-fox hunting novel. People like to say that foxes are vermin who kill farmers’ innocent chickens and that’s why it’s okay to hunt them for sport, but as this book shows they’re just trying to feed their kids! What gives the farmers any more right to the lives of these chickens than the foxes?
So if you’re looking for a short, light-hearted children’s novel, then I think this might be just your glass of water!