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Scary Stories for Young Foxes by Christian…

Scary Stories for Young Foxes (edition 2019)

by Christian McKay Heidicker (Author), Junyi Wu (Illustrator)

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656297,144 (3.92)4
Christian McKay Heidicker draws inspiration from witches, vampires, H. P. Lovecraft, and Edgar Allen Poe to craft his middle-grade debut, a chilling portrait of survival and an unforgettable tale of friendship. When fox kits Mia and Uly are separated from their litters, they quickly learn that the world is a dangerous place filled with monsters. As the young foxes travel across field and forest in search of a home, they'll face a zombie who hungers for their tender flesh, a witch who wants to wear their skins, a ghost who haunts and hunts them, and so much more. Featuring eight interconnected stories and sixteen shockingly cool illustrations, Scary Stories for Young Foxes has the chills of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and the heart of Pax.… (more)
Title:Scary Stories for Young Foxes
Authors:Christian McKay Heidicker (Author)
Other authors:Junyi Wu (Illustrator)
Info:Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (2019), 320 pages
Collections:2020, Your library
Tags:fiction, middle grade, horror, survival, animals, foxes, framing device, newbery honor

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Scary Stories for Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker


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It can be a fearsome thing to be a young fox, too soon alone in the world. Fox kits Mia and Uly, each separated from their families, must make their way through all of the world's dangers in order to have any hope of surviving to adulthood.

This dark set of tales (really just one tale, with a framing device of an old fox telling the story to a dwindling number of kits) shows nature to be red in tooth and claw, indeed. There is death and disaster. Adults do not always take care of the young. Good does not always triumph. But for those who stick around to the very end, there is some measure of hope and redemption . . . if you can get through the scary parts. I'd recommend this to middle-grade readers with a taste for horror, especially those who can take stories where bad things happen to animals. It was a little darker than what I'd usually read, but indubitably well-written. ( )
  foggidawn | May 1, 2020 |
This is indeed a book with seven very scary and realistic stories (young foxes die). It is a well written page turner and does sort of redeem itself at the end. I would not recommend it for the fainthearted. ( )
  DianeVogan | Mar 29, 2020 |
Truly scary, very effective at bringing out the fears that kids know: losing mom’s protection, being abandoned, being teased about being scared (Ewwwly), “She was supposed to stay there with him forever. She’d promised.” A terrifcially and sometimes disturbingly scary story. ( )
  Salsabrarian | Mar 7, 2020 |
Seven little foxes in the Antler Wood make their way to the cave of the old fox to hear scary stories...

Readers expecting sweet, comforting animal stories will be disappointed; These are dark, frightening, often sad stories with a tinge of realism. The old fox storyteller in Bog Cavern tells a series of interconnected stories about two young foxes, Uly and Mia, to a slowly dwindling audience of fox kits, interspersed with dialogue with the young foxes and Wu's chilling black and white charcoal pictures.

Mia begins, with a terrifying encounter with her teacher Miss Vix, who comes under the influence of "the yellow," or rabies. Fleeing with her mother, she then encounters an even more terrifying menace; humans, in the shape of Beatrix Potter, taxidermist and soul-stealing artist. Meanwhile, Uly, who has a withered leg, is taunted and tormented by his cruel sisters, haunted by his own, all-too-real fears, and eventually flees his abusive and demented father. The two meet and struggle on together, both longing and searching for their mothers. They encounter the terrifying Golgathursh, the cruel and deceptive Mr. Scratch, and finally a ghostly return from the beginning of the story tests all their strength and cunning to not only survive but to save the orphaned kits they have found.

Only one fox kit remains at the end of the series of tales, as the morning sun rises and her mother calls her home. More connections are made and while there may not be a bright future ahead - the sounds of development and destruction are all around - the old fox has hope that her kind will continue to triumph over the many frightening dangers they face.

As an adult, I found the section on Beatrix Potter annoying - yes, she did practice taxidermy and was not sentimental about animals, but she was also responsible for the preservation of the Lake District - the home of the foxes - and I am doubtful that, since she was so unsentimental about animals, that she would have had the viewpoints of foxes being "bad" that were espoused here. But kids aren't likely to even know who she is, so that's really a personal quibble. Many of the stories focus on betrayal and abuse by family and friends and the terror comes from the sudden change from familiar and loving to strange and cruel. Sensitive children will absolutely not want to read this, not even kids who have made it through books like One and Only Ivan. This is one for fans of Scary Stories to tell in the dark and readers who like the dark and gruesome with a healthy dose of atmospheric terror.

Verdict: Hand to readers who love chilling stories and are also strong readers, as the build-up to the fear can be slow going. If you could get the audience together, it would be cool to read it aloud leading up to Halloween, although you're just as likely to get complaints that it's too scary! This is the natural successor to Watership Down. You have been warned.

ISBN: 9781250181428; Published July 2019 by Henry Holt Books; Borrowed from another library in my consortium
  JeanLittleLibrary | Dec 29, 2019 |
Eager for scary stories, six fox kits sneak away from their den in the Antler Wood and make their way to Bog Cavern, where the old storyteller regales them with the tale of two young foxes, born of different families, whose youthful misfortunes bring them together. When all of Mia's siblings, as well as her tutor Miss Vix are stricken by the "yellow disease," she and her mother set off into exile, only to become separated when they run afoul of an unexpected human enemy, in the form of Beatrix Potter. Uly, in the meantime, is persecuted by his sisters (and unbeknownst to him at first, his father) for having an atrophied leg, and must eventually flee his own family, when it becomes apparent that his life is in danger. Not yet fully grown, and unprepared for life in the wild, the two kits meet up and go on to encounter many more dangers, all related by the storyteller to the kits in Antler Wood. As each episode is completed, another kit sneaks off home, leading to the question: will any of the listeners stick it out to the end? More importantly, what purpose do these scary stories serve...?

Due out for publication next month (August, 2019), Scary Stories for Young Foxes is animal fiction at its best, and I'm grateful to the work colleague who set the ARC of it aside for me, knowing my fondness for fox stories. Christian McKay Heidicker really captures the vulpine perspective in his writing here, and I appreciated the way in which monstrous things, things that might at first glance appear fantastical to the reader, are shown to be natural - for instance, the "yellow disease" is clearly rabies - as this highlights how differently things must look to our foxy friends. I wasn't really sure what to expect, going in - horror? dark fantasy? - but what I found was fairly realistic animal fiction, with an emphasis on the hardships and dangers to be found in the wild. I didn't find the stories particularly scary, but clearly the young foxes did, and I would imagine young children might as well. Heidicker writes well, with both humor and pathos, and I was completely invested in these characters, hoping throughout that they would find a (relatively) happy ending. The artwork from Junyi Wu, although not final in this ARC edition, is lovely, and added to my enjoyment, as did the choice to use black paper for the scenes depicting the storyteller and listening foxes, and white paper for the eight inset tales. The tying together of those two strands - storyteller and stories - at the end proved most satisfying. Recommended to fox lovers young and old, as well as to any reader who enjoys good animal fiction. ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Jul 20, 2019 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Christian McKay Heidickerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Wu, JunyiIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Christian McKay Heidicker draws inspiration from Bram Stoker, H. P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe for his debut middle-grade novel, a thrilling portrait of survival and an unforgettable tale of friendship.

The haunted season has arrived in the Antler Wood. No fox kit is safe.

When Mia and Uly are separated from their litters, they discover a dangerous world full of monsters. In order to find a den to call home, they must venture through field and forest, facing unspeakable things that dwell in the darkness: a zombie who hungers for their flesh, a witch who tries to steal their skins, a ghost who hunts them through the snow . . . and other things too scary to mention.

Featuring eight interconnected stories and sixteen hauntingly beautiful illustrations, Scary Stories for Young Foxes contains the kinds of adventures and thrills you love to listen to beside a campfire in the dark of night. Fans of Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Auxier, and R. L. Stine have found their next favorite book.
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