Maybe a Fox

By: Kathi Appelt

One morning, Jules’s sister, Sylvie, runs into the woods to throw “a wish rock” into the Slip—and never returns. Moments later, a fox kit is born—and is mysteriously tied to the sisters.

ISBN: 9781442482425

JLG Release: May 2016


Sensitive Areas: No sensitive areas
Topics: Family , Siblings , Sisters , Animals , Foxes , Fantasy and magic , Friendship , Tragedy , Loss , Coping , Mourning

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Grades 5-7

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Awards & Honors

Parents’ Choice Awards, Fiction Gold, Spring 2016
ALA Notable Books for Children Nominee–Summer 2016, Fiction
Booklist 2016 Editors’ Choice, Books for Youth, Middle Readers, Fiction
Green Earth Book Award 2017 Longlist, Children’s Fiction

Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Book List*, The Horn Book Magazine, The Horn Book Guide^, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly*, School Library Journal*, Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)

School Library Journal

[STARRED REVIEW]
Twelve-year-old Sylvie, the older of the two Sherman sisters, is the runner, the fast, impetuous one. A year younger, Jules is a rock collector who takes her time to think things through. The morning of the last snowfall of the season in rural Vermont, Jules and Sylvie build a miniature snow family before getting ready
[STARRED REVIEW]
Twelve-year-old Sylvie, the older of the two Sherman sisters, is the runner, the fast, impetuous one. A year younger, Jules is a rock collector who takes her time to think things through. The morning of the last snowfall of the season in rural Vermont, Jules and Sylvie build a miniature snow family before getting ready for school. Sylvie wants to be fast, “so fast that . . ” but she never finishes that sentence, and Jules isn’t sure why her sister is so focused on speed. After playing in the snow, Sylvie darts off into the woods to throw a wishing rock into the Slip—and that’s the last time anyone sees her. At that moment, a fox kit is born. One of a litter of three, this kit is a “kennen,” a being that has an understanding that others do not possess and a destiny that it cannot escape. It’s tied to Jules and to Sylvie. Although Sylvie’s body is not found, everyone knows she drowned in the river and is gone. Jules thinks of it as “the After Sylvie” time, and she and her father grieve together, struggling to cobble together some hope for the future. There are some heavy elements in this beautifully written middle grade novel: the death of Sylvie and Jules’s mother several years before the story begins, the devastating disappearance/death of Sylvie, and the grieving of a neighbor who was deployed with his best friend to Afghanistan. But despite these sad events, the descriptions of rural Vermont, the sense of caring within Jules’s community, and the relationship between the two girls and their father make for a book that is both raw and hopeful and one that readers won’t soon forget. Through a dual narrative—one from Jules, the other from the “kennen” fox kit—the authors convey an understanding that grief is a journey and that a person can, even after terrible loss, feel the warm sun, smile once again, and make wishes for the future. VERDICT Highly recommended for all middle grade collections.—Kathy Kirchoefer, Henderson County Public Library, NC

Horn Book

Eleven-year-old Jules, a budding geologist, and her twelve-year-old sister Sylvie, the fastest kid in school, live with their father in rural Vermont. Because the girls’ mother died when Jules was small, her memories, frustratingly, are dim. She does remember the awful sight of their mother collapsing onto the kitchen floor, and then six-year Eleven-year-old Jules, a budding geologist, and her twelve-year-old sister Sylvie, the fastest kid in school, live with their father in rural Vermont. Because the girls’ mother died when Jules was small, her memories, frustratingly, are dim. She does remember the awful sight of their mother collapsing onto the kitchen floor, and then six-year-old Sylvie sprinting as fast as she could to get help, but it was too late. And now Sylvie is the one who has disappeared: one morning before school she takes off running in the woods and never comes back; they think she tripped into the river and was swept away. At the same time, a fox kit, Senna, is born, with the instinctual desire to watch over and protect Jules. Because foxes are considered good luck, Jules’s occasional glimpses of Senna bring her some peace. A catamount, too, is rumored to be in the woods, along with a bear, and at book’s climax, the human, animal, and (most affectingly) spirit worlds collide and converge. This is a remarkably sad story that offers up measures of comfort through nature, family, community, and the interconnectedness among them. The sisters’ best friend, Sam, who is himself grieving for Sylvie and desperately longs to see that catamount, is happy to have his brother Elk home from Afghanistan, but Elk’s own best friend Zeke didn’t return, leaving Elk bereft; he and Jules mourn their losses in the woods. Zeke’s grandmother is the one to whom Sylvie ran when their mother collapsed and who now brings soup for Jules, and for her kind, stoic, heartbroken father. A good cry can be cathartic, and this book about nourishing one’s soul during times of great sadness does the trick. elissa gershowitz

Book Details

ISBN

9781442482425

First Release

May 2016

Genre

Fic

Dewey Classification

Trim Size

5" x 7 1/2"

Page Count

272

Accelerated Reader

Level 0; Points: 0;

Scholastic Reading Counts

Level 4.5; Points: 10;

Lexile

Level 740L

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Atheneum

Potentially Sensitive Areas

No sensitive areas

Topics

Family, Siblings, Sisters, Animals, Foxes, Fantasy and magic, Friendship, Tragedy, Loss, Coping, Mourning,

Standard MARC Record

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Cover Art

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