Maybe a Fox
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Maybe a Fox

4.07 (3,821 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

Worlds collide in a spectacular way when Newbery and National Book Award finalist Kathi Appelt and Pulitzer Prize nominee and #1 New York Times bestseller Alison McGhee team up to create a fantastical, heartbreaking, and gorgeous tale about two sisters, a fox cub, and what happens when one of the sisters disappears forever. Sylvie and Jules, Jules and Sylvie. Better than just sisters, better than best friends, they'd be identical twins if only they'd been born in the same year. And if only Sylvie wasn't such a fast--faster than fast--runner. But Sylvie is too fast, and when she runs to the river they're not supposed to go anywhere near to throw a wish rock just before the school bus comes on a snowy morning, she runs so fast that no one sees what happens...and no one ever sees her again. Jules is devastated, but she refuses to believe what all the others believe, that--like their mother--her sister is gone forever. At the very same time, in the shadow world, a shadow fox is born--half of the spirit world, half of the animal world. She too is fast--faster than fast--and she senses danger. She's too young to know exactly what she senses, but she knows something is very wrong. And when Jules believes one last wish rock for Sylvie needs to be thrown into the river, the human and shadow worlds collide. Writing in alternate voices--one Jules's, the other the fox's--Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee tell the searingly beautiful tale of one small family's moment of heartbreak, a moment that unfolds into one that is epic, mythic, shimmering, and most of all, hopeful.
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Product details

  • 0-5
  • Hardback | 272 pages
  • 135 x 198 x 24mm | 318g
  • English
  • 1442482427
  • 9781442482425
  • 1,064,919

Review quote

Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee's collaborative novel entwines the story of one girl's grief with that of a fox with a rare, but important destiny. Among Jules and Sylvie Sherman's dad's Do Not rules is that they are never to go near the Slip, a dangerous point where the Whippoorwill River surges beneath the ground before reemerging downstream. However, this wild, watery place in the woods behind their Vermont home holds a particular allure: it is the perfect place to throw wish rocks. Jules, 11, is a rock hound who loves sorting her collection into "Sherman Galaxies" of igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rock, but wish rocks are a category unto
themselves. These rocks are for writing a burning wish that might just come true when cast into the Slip. Sylvie, 12, is a runner whose burning wish is to run faster; but one morning when she doesn't return from a last-minute dash to the Slip, Jules can only find a tree root poking out of the path, followed by a gash in the snow that ends at the river. And just like that, Sylvie is gone forever. Elsewhere in the forest, a fox gives birth to three kits and knows that her little girl, Senna, is Kennen--spiritually connected to another living creature. As Senna grows and learns "a thousand years of fox knowledge" from the smells and sounds around her, Jules and her father struggle to cope with Sylvie's death, their grief compounded by the lingering loss of the girls' mother a few years earlier. Jules runs through what-if and if-only scenarios that would have kept her sister alive, alternately feeling despair and anger over what has transpired. Her inability to control her emotions rings true, and readers will empathize with her desire to find her feet in a world "After Sylvie." Despite the heavy nature of the story, it maintains a forward momentum and resists taking on a brooding atmosphere. This is due in part to the way the narrative shifts, drawing on different characters' experiences with death. The girls' friend Sam had a burning wish for his brother, Elk, to return safely from Afghanistan; though he did, Elk's best friend did not, and Jules and Elk form a quiet camaraderie in their search for solace. Rules and rituals evolve to remember departed loved ones, create order, and stay safe:
Jules sorts her rocks, her dad devises more Do Nots. Throughout, Jules chases the question, "Where do you go when you die?" It's a query she and Sylvie used to answer with the Maybe game, postulating "Maybe you fly away like a bluebird" or maybe you simply shrink until no one can see you. Once Sylvie dies, this question is joined by another: why did Sylvie want to run so fast? Jules' sister had always kept this a secret, but both answers, as it turns out, are wrapped up in Senna. Many readers will quickly guess the connection between Senna, Sylvie, and Jules, but the exact implications to the plot are not as easily discerned. Additionally, the concept of Kennen imparts another avenue for the authors to explore grief, offering a comforting spiritual explanation that is not tied to religion. While this may not resonate with everyone, the fantasy element inherent to Senna's story helps keep the book's serious aspects from overwhelming young readers. Neither author is a stranger to writing poignant animal stories that tackle weighty themes, as Appelt proved in her Newbery Honor book, The Underneath (2008), and McGhee showed in Firefly Hollow (2015). Together, they create a delicate world that effortlessly impresses itself upon the reader. It is a world where bad things can happen for no good reason, where catching sight of a fox means luck, where love transcends all boundaries, and maybe death doesn't have to be an ending.--Booklist *STARRED* "December 15, 2015 "
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About Kathi Appelt

Kathi Appelt is the author of the Newbery Honoree, National Book Award finalist, PEN USA Literary Award-winning, and bestselling The Underneath as well as the National Book Award finalist The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, Maybe a Fox (with Alison McGhee), Keeper, and many picture books including Counting Crows and Max Attacks. She has two grown children and lives in College Station, Texas, with her husband. Visit her at KathiAppelt.com. Alison McGhee is the New York Times bestselling author of Someday, as well as Dear Sister, Maybe a Fox with Kathi Appelt, Firefly Hollow, Little Boy, So Many Days, Star Bright, A Very Brave Witch, and the Bink and Gollie books. Her other children's books include All Rivers Flow to the Sea, Countdown to Kindergarten, and Snap!. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Laguna Beach, California. You can visit her at AlisonMcGhee.com.
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Rating details

3,821 ratings
4.07 out of 5 stars
5 39% (1,500)
4 36% (1,374)
3 19% (716)
2 5% (181)
1 1% (50)
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