I’ll start out by saying: I love this book! I love the plot, I love the characters, I love Betsy Byars’ writing, I love the awe of wild things that shines out, I love the mixture of humor and suspense…well, you get the idea.
Tom is a 10-year-old boy whose parents are sending him to Aunt Millie’s farm for a couple of months. The trouble is: Tom hates farms. And animals. And is convinced all animals hate him. Honestly, he would much rather stay home and have fun with his friend Petie Burkis.
The first days at the farm are long and cheerless, except for an occasional letter from Petie, always full of the ridiculous. But! One day while Tom is out, he spots a black fox; a creature so wild, so exquisite, so graceful, he is immediately enthralled. “I did not believe it for a minute…As she came closer I could see that her black fur was tipped with white. It was as if it were midnight and the moon were shining on her fur, frosting it…In all my life I never saw anything like that fox standing there with her pale golden eyes on me and this great black fur being blown by the wind.”
Tom’s keen interest in the fox leads to his discovery of her den. In amazement, Tom watches her and her cub playing and lounging and hunting together. Tom is mesmerized by the beauty of these two. However, when Aunt Millie’s turkey and a couple of hens go missing, Uncle Fred determines to find the culprit fox and kill it. Tom is frantic to save the black fox, but how can he do that when no one else seems to appreciate this wild creature?
This makes a fantastic read-aloud for ages 7 or 8 and up. It’s great for boys or girls…and moms and dads! We’ve read it aloud on a canoe trip in the Boundary Waters and given it for birthday presents. Betsy Byars herself says it is her favorite of all the books she’s written! Which is saying a lot. Give it a try.