Scary Stories for Young Foxes

Read or listen to this book in Granite’s Sora

Written by Christian McKay Heidicker, Illustrated by Junyi Wu

This is the story of a litter of fox kits who venture out from the safety of their den in Antler Wood to visit the old storyteller who lives in Bog Cavern. They all want to hear her ancient, scary stories because they all want to prove how brave they are – but, are these little foxes really ready to listen?

The main characters, Mia and Uly, are cleverly woven into the eight interconnected stories within the book. Separately and together these two young foxes struggle for survival against menacing predators, harsh weather conditions and even their own family members. Unfortunately, a few of these “scary stories” may be a little disturbing and too graphic for some younger readers. And even the appearance of Beatrix Potter in the story is not the least bit reassuring as she is portrayed as a slightly off-kilter old woman who murders animals after using them as inspiration for her children’s stories.

I can understand why this book was a Newberry Honor Book for 2020 as it is beautifully illustrated with dark and ethereal drawings and has a captivating storyline. Just be aware that some readers may find some of its contents disturbing. I recommend it for ages 10 and up.

Reviewed by Lynda H. Wilson, Media Clerk, David Gourley Elementary
November 2020
Rating: ★★★★★ (5 stars)
Interest Level: Ages 10 and up

I read this book over a month ago, but it has settled deep into me and I still think about it often. This is a clever collection of seven supposedly distinct stories told by a mysterious old fox one autumn night to a litter of seven sleepless kits. The stories nevertheless episodically build into a complete narrative by the book’s end. The tales are narrated in a darkly humorous storytelling tone one would expect for fairy tales or ghost stories. However, when put under scrutiny, there is nothing magical or supernatural about any of the tales; the book is filled entirely with harrowing circumstances that could and probably do happen to foxes in the wild, making this book a good suggestion not only for fans of scary stories but also more realistic animal survival and adventure stories. It doesn’t shy away from the precarious and difficult circumstances of life for wild animals, which is what make the tales all the more fearsome and, at times, sorrowful. These tales, in which foxes confront sadness, loss, and death with fear and courage, of course also have their unspoken parallels in the life challenges of the young humans who may actually read these stories for young foxes. There is a way in which the book is telling hard stories for the young readers that need them, while other young readers may approach the stories as simply entertaining, scary animal tales and also enjoy them at that level.Recommended for young readers who like scary stories, animal stories, adventure and survival stories, or any other kind of story well-told.

Reviewed by Joshua Whiting, Library Media Program, Educational Technology Dept.
December 2019
Rating: ★★★★½ (4.5 stars)
Interest Level: Grades 4-7

Book Trailer – Scary Stories for Young Foxes
Virtual Author Visit Playlist – Christian McKay Heidicker

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Scary Stories for Young Foxes
Written by Christian McKay Heidicker, Illustrated by Junyi Wu
Henry Holt and Company
314 pages
Release Date: July 30, 2019
ISBN: 9781250181428

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