Fox Friend by Michael Morpurgo and Joanna Carey
|Fox Friend by Michael Morpurgo and Joanna Carey|
|Category: Dyslexia Friendly|
|Reviewer: Margaret Young|
|Summary: A farmer's daughter befriends an orphaned fox with tragic results.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 64||Date: May 2012|
|Publisher: Barrington Stoke|
|External links: Author's website|
Clare loves animals. Her best friend is her horse, and she loves all the lambs born on her family farm as well. This natural affection for animals easily extended to the fox she saw strolling through the farm as well. Her father however despises foxes saying the only good fox is dead fox. Clare's Father says the foxes had already killed ten lambs that year, and it was only March with the lambing season in full swing. (I did find these figures quite high - but then again, maybe they owned thousands of sheep). When Clare finds an injured and orphaned cub after a fox hunt, it is obvious she can not turn to her parents for help. But regardless of her father's feelings, Clare is determined to save this helpless little creature.
I read this book myself before sharing it with my sons, and I was glad I did. This book would be very upsetting to my youngest son, but in all fairness he is well below the recommended age of 8 - 12. I did offer this to my 8 year old as well, but the book failed to hold his interest and he did not finish it. He realised it was fiction, but still found it too unrealistic. I'm afraid as much as I like the author, I have to agree with him. We both found it impossible to imagine a fox cub surviving with the care described in the book, and the thought of keeping it locked up in a small dark shed for a full year was absolutely horrific. The final chapter of this book is titled Tragedy so it was obvious it wouldn't end well, but if you imagined the conditions the poor creature was kept in, the ending seemed merciful.
This book does have some good points. I especially liked a conversation between Clare and her father in which he said that foxes had to be hunted because there were too many. She replied that there were too many humans as well and I thought that was an excellent point. I think this book does bring to life some of the suffering involved in a fox hunt and I do love that fact that this book is dyslexia friendly and generally very easy to read. I found the illustrations excellent as well. I may very well be too critical. The average eight year old child may not be aware that some things in this book were impossible.
For instance Clare feeds the orphaned fox cub a single bottle a day of rehydrated powdered milk. I've bottle-fed pups before. You have to feed around the clock and it is an incredible amount of work. Carnivores also require a richer milk. The powdered stuff would not work. I also found the idea of keeping an animal penned up in such dire conditions horrid, and I'm well aware of the fact that foxes are not dogs and do not domesticate as easily. I'm sure many young children, especially girls may enjoy this simply because it has animals and it isn't a terrible story, but I did expect more from an author of Michael Morpurgo's standing. It is also worth noting though, that this is more than just a quick read, this is a carefully crafted book to help develop literacy. I can't say it is one of the best books I have read from this publisher, but it is far better than the most of the reading primers or school texts I have come across.
Fox Friend is part of Barrington Stoke's line of books written specifically for children with dyslexia. These books follow all of the guidelines of the British Dyslexia Association for dyslexia-friendly text. Working with a team of experts in the field, Barrington Stoke have developed their own font which is especially designed to make reading as easy as possible for children with dyslexia. They also print all of their books on a thick, off white, non-glare paper to minimise distractions which can make reading more difficult. The print is large and double spaced, with short chapters and short stories created to build confidence. The stories are commissioned by Barrington Stoke, usually from very well known authors, and are written to appeal to older children, but at a much lower reading level than the interest level. This book is listed as reading age of eight and an interest age of eight to twelve.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Fox Friend by Michael Morpurgo and Joanna Carey at Amazon.com.
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