Stone Fox

by John Reynolds Gardiner (1980)

A Sweet Spot selection. 

We’re proud to present the modern classic, Stone Fox, by John Reynolds Gardiner.

Years after its first publication Stone Fox remains a cult favorite of reading teachers, librarians, and book store owners. It’s a deceptively simple tale that reads quickly, yet also moves hearts.

We’re recommending Stone Fox for schools that want to start their families off with a short (80+ pages), digestible title that will build confidence in families’ ability to read together, while also generating excitement and enthusiasm to read your next title.

Stone Fox tells the story of a young boy living with his grandfather in a small, rural town in Wyoming. The grandfather falls ill, leaving little Willy to work the potato farm on his own. But, the real drama occurs when the tax man shows up. Willy has to find a way to save his grandfather and their farm, with his trusty dog Searchlight at his side.

The setting is small town, agricultural and bucolic. Willy knows his way around farm chores, and he shoulders the responsibility of caring for the farm and his ailing grandfather with steadfast dedication. The story takes a stark turn, however, when the mysterious, dour, laconic master dog-sledder, Stone Fox — a Shoshone Native American — enters the picture. Every child listening becomes invested in the results of the town’s dogsled race. You can be assured John Reynolds Gardiner has powerful, memorable lessons in store by the time the race — and the story — are over.

Children routinely jump out of their seats insisting you finish reading instead of waiting for tomorrow night’s chapter. When that happens, you have created a lover of literature and you are ready for the next book. If you’re looking for a simple yet rewarding intro book to lead families to the joy of reading aloud — read Stone Fox and get your students ready for the next one.