Children’s Book Reviews

Children's Book Reviews: Pax

Publish June 17, 2016

Pax, by Sara Pennypacker, is a compelling and thoughtful story about a boy, his pet fox, and the ravages of war. Peter lives in a world that seems very much like small-town North America, except that a deadly war is encroaching on everyday life. Peter’s father, who is joining the army, takes Peter to live with his grandfather. Along the way, he insists that Peter abandon his beloved pet fox, Pax, in the woods. The book tells the story of what happens next to both Peter and Pax. Peter, filled with remorse, heads back into the war zone to find his pet, while Pax tries to learn learn how to survive in the wild without Peter’s love and care. Their journeys are overshadowed by the spread of what Pennypacker calls “war-sickness:” the terror of human beings trying to kill each other. Pennypacker has done extensive research about how red foxes hunt, play, and protect each other, and this is reflected in her astute portrayal of Pax. It is no accident that his name means “peace” — the strong bonds of love between Peter and Pax emerge as an antidote to the disease of war. Jon Klassen’s black and white illustrations are simple and sweet: a toy soldier, a patch of tulips, a fox sitting by the side of the road. The drawings are scattered throughout the book and provide some relief from the darkness of the story. Pax deals with some very complicated issues – war, self-reliance, guilt, and redemption.  All are drawn together in a very human adventure story that will resonate with readers long after the cathartic ending. Highly recommended.


Sara Pennypacker
Illustration EN: Jon Klassen
Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins)
ISBN 13: 978-0-06-237701-2