Monday, March 21, 2016

Book Review: PAX by Sara Pennypacker

Dear Kim,

I am happy to hear that you are feeling better (Baby too.) You and I find common ground in our young adult, even adult, book recommendations. I typically leave Donna to send us recommendations about terrific Middle Grade novels. But, boy oh boy, do I have one for you today.

WONDER by R.J. Palacio
Poster of precepts by one of my lit circle kids.
I need to keep up with the best in Middle Grade fiction in order to engage my small literature group of amazing readers that I meet with at our local elementary school. This school year we've already read Kathy Erskine's Mockingbird and R.J. Palacio's Wonder. Currently we are enjoying Kwame Alexander's The Crossover. When we finish Alexander's novel-in-verse, our next pick is PAX.


Oh, PAX.
I could write a love song about this book.
Hey, that's not a bad idea. The kids might enjoy writing a song about the love between Peter and Pax.




Peter and Pax were best friends. Peter, age twelve, needed a friend like Pax to rise from the lose of his mother. And Pax, well Pax needed Peter too. Peter rescued the orphaned fox as a kit. 

When Peter's father enlisted in the war, Peter's life was once again turned upside down. Peter moved to his grandfather's house, 300 miles away from home, and Pax was released back into the wild. Without Pax's companionship, Peter couldn't cope with all of the changes. The only thing he could do to make things right-- set his world back in motion-- was find his fox. He set out for the woods, despite the guilt for leaving his grandfather; despite the violent war at his back, nothing would keep him from Pax.



When first released to the wild, Pax waited. Of course he waited. He cleaned his paws. Listened to the rustling of the woods. And waited for Peter to come back to him. Eventually Pax began his journey through the wilderness in search of his human. He saw new creatures, new geography, and sudden, sad moments of the war. 

                                                     

I will not tell you if boy and fox are reunited because you must read PAX without such a spoiler. I will tell you that the book is a masterpiece. It will take a place of honor next to other classics that celebrate the bond between child and animal. Books like Charlotte's Web and The One and Only Ivan and Shiloh and Because of Winn-Dixie; they will all welcome PAX to the bookshelf.

To add to Sara Pennypacker's beautiful language, the book held illustrations from Caldecott-winning artist, Jon Klassen. Moreover, the muted design of the book creates a perfect package; with rough cut paper mirroring the rough wilderness and war times, along with the embossed front cover (please do take a peek under the dust jacket.)

Klassen has a number of Caldecott honors and one medal, missing here is Extra Yarn (my favorite).

Kim, PAX is a must read. Curl up with your favorite companions for this one. You won't be sorry.



Much Love,
Alison