Fantastic Mr. Fox

by Roald Dahl (1970)

Boggis and Bunce and Bean
One fat, one short, one lean.
These horrible crooks
So different in looks
Were nonetheless equally mean.

So begins the sly and charming tale, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Roald Dahl’s 1970 story about a family of foxes trying to survive by outwitting the three farmers who try to root them out.

They are led by the redoubtable Mr. Fox – so debonair, witty, confident, proud, and resourceful that he is indeed Fantastic. He manages to come up with a cheerful solution to every new travail, showing his family, and the other digging denizens of their hilltop, how to outwit the farmers and survive in their domain.

The Farmers are the antagonists – and they are caricatures in the same vein as Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker from James and the Giant Peach. That means Fantastic Mr. Fox is a winsome tale – not truly about the natural world as some other animal stories are. Instead, Fantastic Mr. Fox is a fable – silly, scary, witty, and memorable.

Roald Dahl remains an incredibly popular author a full quarter century after his death. His books continue to be read (James and the Giant Peach; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and adapted into film (The BFG) and stage works (Matilda). Fantastic Mr. Fox marks the fifth Dahl title offered and recommended by Read to Them.

Consider Fantastic Mr. Fox as an ideal introductory title, a shorter work (the paperback edition clocks in at 81 pages), including Quentin Blake’s playful illustrations, that can easily be read at home in two weeks. Intro titles are an ideal way to ease less experienced families into what it means to read and share together.

Fantastic Mr. Fox himself might consider his own story the perfect way to teach all families how to establish what we call ‘a culture of literacy’ in every burrow, home, or fox hole.

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[Note: Consider also sharing any of Roald Dahl’s shorter works – Esio Trot, The Enormous Crocodile, The Magic Finger, George’s Marvelous Medicine – with your families. Read to Them will be happy to create a smaller suite of supplementary resources for any Roald Dahl title.]