Monday, October 9, 2017

Review: Fantastic Mr. Fox – Roald Dahl


Fantastic Mr. Fox – Roald Dahl


Here are the extraordinary adventures of three nasty farmers and one fabulous fox who outwits them all.



Review: An optimistic fox with a Band-Aid on his ass saves his friends from starvation? I’m so ready for this story.

Over the past few years, I’ve been slowly working my way through all of Roald Dahl’s books. Fantastic Mr. Fox is a short (90 pages, including many illustrations) children’s novel about a fox who steals food from farmers to feed his family. When the farmers surround Mr. Fox and trap him in his den, he has to find a new way to get food.

I would have loved this story as a kid. The main characters are animals, which would have made me happy, and there’s some dark humor. Early in the story, the farmers shoot off Mr. Fox’s tail. The fox spends the rest of the story with a Band-Aid on his butt. The illustrations of it made me smile.

As an adult, I like the environmental message of the story. Maybe the author didn’t intend for there to be an environmental message, but I saw one. The farmers destroy the hill where Fox and the other wild animals live. When they ruin the animals’ habitat, the animals move into the farmers’ habitat and cause mayhem. It shows that environmental destruction can create more problems than it solves.  


“‘Haven’t you heard what’s happening on the hill?’ Badger said excitedly. ‘It’s chaos! Half the wood has disappeared and there are men with guns all over the countryside! None of us can go out, even at night! We’re all starving to death!’” – Fantastic Mr. Fox



I think that calling Mr. Fox “Fantastic” is a bit of an overstatement. When I started this book, I expected him to do something really clever. The farmers trap him in his hole, and his solution is “dig a tunnel and come out somewhere else.” Well, duh. That’s the most obvious solution ever. I expected the farmers to foil Fox’s obvious solution and force him to come up with something more innovative. They didn’t. Maybe child readers would find Mr. Fox more “Fantastic” than I did.

I loved Mr. Fox’s optimism, though. He didn’t give up, even when the other animals started feeling hopeless. Optimistic Mr. Fox would be a better name for him.

I also wish the story had more resolution. Mr. Fox does succeed in getting food for his family, but that’s it. The story ends with the farmers deciding to sit outside of Fox’s den forever, and Fox deciding to stay underground forever. As a misanthropic human, the thought of living underground and never coming out is appealing to me, but it doesn’t seem like an ideal life for a fox.

Now I’m wondering what foxes would look like after generations of living underground. I’m picturing tiny, eyeless, hairless, albino foxes.

Clearly, I’m overthinking this book.

Fantastic Mr. Fox isn’t my favorite Roald Dahl story, but I enjoyed reading it. It’s just slightly too simplistic for me. However, I’m not the target audience. I think I would have liked this story quite a lot as a child. 







14 comments:

  1. this sounds like a great story and a good way to remind kids of how we are interconnected with all creation.

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    1. YES! If I had kids, I’d totally read this book to them.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  2. This sounds like a great book for me to read to my daughter! Great review!

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  3. oh I liked this one too! I read it as a teen and I just think Roald Dahl is bizarre and awesome?!? Like total goals. His imagination is so messed up.😂 Also did you ever see the movie? IT'S SO WEIRD.

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    1. I haven’t seen the movie, but I totally agree about Dahl’s imagination. He must have been an odd dude.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  4. I really want to get the full Dahl collection at some point. I read a lot of his books as a kid - like this one - but not all of them, and it's been years so re-reading would be fun. Loved your review! :)

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. Thanks! I’m also trying to read all of Dahl’s books. It has been a very slow process.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  5. I think I recommended it because you asked for children's book recs.

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    1. Yep. Most of the books I read were recommended to me by bloggers.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  6. It's so hard to rate books like this, right? Because you know they're perfect for their audience, even if they're not absolutely perfect for you.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. Exactly. I have that problem all the time with kids’ books. They’re hard to review because I’m not the target audience. I think I would have loved this one as a kid.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  7. I loved this book as a kid which led to me loving foxes. We get a lot around our garden and they let us hand feed them which is amazing! All thanks to Mr Fox!

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    1. We have foxes around here, but I’ve never tried to feed one. I’d worry that they’d hang around and attack (or get attacked) by my dogs.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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