One Fox: A Counting Book Thriller – Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

First thing I’ve got to say: This is NOT a simple, boring counting book. It is, as a reviewer for School Library Journal states, “Stunning…brilliantly colored…striking… [with] Just the right amount of tension, delicious vocabulary…”

The attention to detail is fabulous, with the front end papers leading the way.

Text/Illustrations ⓒKate Read

The tension begins even before the story officially opens, because that fox is clearly up to no good.

The counting begins on the first spread with “One famished fox,” the word “famished” adding to the tension. The word choice in this story is, indeed, delicious—and so apropos for the subject matter. When a fox is hungry, what does it want to do?

In the next spread, the camera zooms in on the head of the fox on the left hand page, with the text “Two sly eyes” on the right hand side. And—oh! What’s that? A telltale feather lying underneath the text, matching the color of the number “2.”

Spread three features “Three plump hens” focusing on scratching up a meal of their own. Poor worms. But, oh, the fox! Whom do you think that sly fox is stalking?

Spread four is fabulous, with slightly less than the top half of the spread showing “Four padding paws” silently making their way along a line of chicken wire. Uh oh….the fox is getting closer!

Then spread five where the hens (and their eggs) are snoozing inside the dark coop.

Spread six is masterful.

Text/Illustrations ⓒKate Read

Note the six paw tracks. Count them to draw out the suspense. Then ask: is it possible for that fox to be as large as that chicken coop? What does this exaggerated perspective add to the story?

Jumping ahead, the extended, curled tongue in the tenth spread displays the fox’s anticipated pleasure at eating those chickens. I can almost feel and taste the feathers, too. And those teeth!

Text/Illustrations ⓒKate Read

I’m going to leave the story right there, because this book is indeed a suspense-filled thriller with a perfect surprise ending that says something about strength in numbers (but I won’t get political and point my fingers at a large group of folks who chickened out on taking a stand for democracy).

I’ll just say that we have a wonderfully-talented debut author-illustrator in our midst: Kate Read, who’s aptly named, don’t you think? I look forward to reading more of her work down the road.


Fold an origami fox (easy version)

Fold an origami fox (medium difficulty)

Pair this book with THE PLOT CHICKENS by Mary Jane Auch for lessons on story writing (or to add even more laughs to your reading time)

Talk about examples where “strength in numbers” may help an individual or a cause.

Title: One Fox: A Counting Book Thriller

Author/Illustrator: Kate Read

Publisher: Peachtree Publishing, 2019

Ages: Prek-5th grade (great for older kids in teaching story structure.)

Themes: Counting concept book, strength in numbers, story structure

For more perfect picture book recommendations, visit Susanna Hill’s blog. Stay tuned next week for a review of a stellar STEM book for Women’s History Month! Cheers!


24 thoughts on “One Fox: A Counting Book Thriller – Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      Yay! I think you’ve touched on something. The illustrations have a kind of folktale feel. They’re not afraid to be a bit scary, something kids love. What is called a frisson of fear.

  1. Maria Marshall says:

    Touche! A devious red fox, hmm reminds of . . . Right, a #PPBF review. I saw this book during the Cybils. It is well done and I chuckled at your comment of the size of the fox & the hen house. Glad you highlighted it. Great activities, too!

  2. ptnozell says:

    Fantastic review. I’ve put in a request at my “local” – as I must find out whether that sly fox got his meal or was foiled by some savvy chicks!

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      I still love reading it, although I know how it ends. The text and illustrations are just so engaging. And I don’t think of it primarily as a counting book, because I’m so wrapped up in the story it is telling. Brilliant! I think your grandson will love it, too!

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      I was going to add an origami chicken tutorial, but the ones I found seemed a little too difficult for the picture book crowd. Although my son managed to make millions of cranes when he was in 1st and 2nd grade, so I shouldn’t underestimate the dexterity of small fingers. And regarding drama: it’s fantastic in books, not so fantastic in real life. I hope you and your family stay well during this pandemic season.

  3. Ste J says:

    Well the joy of that is that the government in Ph have decided to lock Manila down so when we fly over we will have to stay with a friend for at least a few weeks, which is a bit of a shame but at least it will be something different.

Please feed the chickens...

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