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.
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.
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!
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!