Read Aloud Thursday–outfoxing the fox

I normally wouldn’t review a holiday book so soon after (or so long before?) a holiday, but
this subtle Groundhog Day book is simply too good to miss, no matter the time of year.  As the title indicates, Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox is the story of a groundhog named Brownie who appears as expected on February 2 and is met by not only her shadow, but also by a “small, scrawny fox.”  Mr. Fox pounces on her, knocks her flat, and announces, “Hold still.  I’m trying to eat you for breakfast.”  Well, it turns out that Brownie is wilier than Mr. Fox and offers him lots and lots of excuses why he simply can’t eat her for breakfast or lunch or dinner, and the fox buys every one of them.  Not only that, Brownie then takes the fox along on her hunt for signs of spring.   (“Besides me” is her frequent refrain.)  My girls and I love this one.  What I love most about it is the rich, delicious language Brownie uses: 

“Not a clink or a crackle,” she said.  “This icy ice is frozen solid.”

The girls love that she outfoxes the fox so many times, and the end they head home as friends.  Susan Blackaby has created quite the hero in Brownie, and Carmen Segovia‘s illustrations are perfectly wonderful.  Using only white, blue, shades of brown, and red, Segovia creates the perfect wintery world for Brownie and the fox.  (Truthfully, the illustrations remind me a bit of the ones in Jon Klassen’s much-lauded I Want My Hat Back which I wrote about here, but I like this story so much better.)  Don’t wait until next February 2nd to read this one–find a copy today!  Highly Recommended.  (Sterling 2011) {I just looked this one up, and yes, it was nominated for a Cybils last year.  Rats!  I was hoping it had been published late enough in the year to be nominated for next year’s Cybils!}

You’ll have to dust off your fake French accent for this next fun picture book.  Rabbit Pirates:  A Tale of the the Spinach Main by Judy Cox is a rollicking good time.  Something about this story just tickles me.  It’s the story of Monsieur Lapin and Monsieur Blanc, rabbits and friends who run a little café in Provence called the Spinach Main.  Obviously, these bunnies have seen much more exciting times, but now they are content to sip their glasses of mineral water on the terrace and reminisce.  That is, they’re content until a “well dressed fox” becomes one of their restaurant’s regular patrons, and it is obvious that the fox has more on his mind than the aubergines on his plate.  What will the bunnies do?  Never fear–they have a few tricks up their sleeves, and while they don’t have to resort to their old pirate tricks, they are more than a match for Mr. Fox.  This story is just plain old fun, and Caldecott-winning illustrator Emily Arnold McCully‘s illustrations are the perfect complement to the story.  Another Highly Recommended tale! (Browndeer Press, 1999)

I love that I can still find picture books that my chapter book-devouring older daughter still enjoys.  Both of these stories are nuanced and complicated enough to be enjoyed by anyone.  🙂

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8 thoughts on “Read Aloud Thursday–outfoxing the fox”

  1. These both sound great! I’ve had a hard time finding picture books to pull all of us in of late … I’ll have to see if my library has these!

    (I know I owe you an email … hoping to tackle the in-box today!) : )

  2. The title of your blog post this time is what gets me. Now I have Danny Kaye singing, “You can never outfox the fox!” in my head. (From The Court Jester.) I’m not sure whether or not to be annoyed with you. We’ll see how long the song stays put! 🙂

  3. Oh, I need to get back to RAT!

    I do know about Melissa Wiley and her blog! (You probably pointed me in her direction a year or more ago!) I really enjoy her posts, but have not read her books yet. 🙂

  4. These both sound like lots of fun, and those cover illustrations just make me want to open them up right now! Off to request from the library…

  5. These books are both new to me, too, and I am especially interested in checking out Brownie’s story. I also love the contrast of the red and black on the cover of that one. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I read Men of Iron to my 9 yr. old ds and 12 yr. dd. Though there are a lot of fun antics along with the fighting which I think younger kids would enjoy, but as Myles grows everything gets a little more intense. I think this book is probably better for a little bit older child, but it will stretch all the up through adulthood.

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