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Pax Hardcover – Deckle Edge, February 2, 2016

4.6 out of 5 stars 152 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 4–7—A viscerally affecting story of war, loss, and the power of friendship. Pennypacker, author of the exuberant "Clementine" series (Disney-Hyperion) and the charmingly morbid Summer of the Gypsy Moths (HarperCollins, 2012), here displays not only her formidable writing skills and a willingness to stretch her storytelling into increasingly complex narrative forms but also her ability to tackle dark and weighty themes with sensitivity and respect for the child reader. Set in an intentionally undefined time and place that could very well be a near-future America, the novel opens with a heartbreaking scene of a tame red fox, Pax, being abandoned at the side of the road by his beloved boy, Peter. Perspectives alternate between the boy and the fox, and readers learn that a terrible war rages in this land. Peter's father is about to leave for the frontlines, and while he's away, Peter must live with his grandfather out in the country—and his father makes it clear that there is no place for Pax in Peter's temporary home. Almost as soon as he arrives at his grandfather's, Peter is overcome with guilt, and he sets off under the cover of darkness to trek the 300 miles back to his home, where he prays he'll find Pax. The loyal fox, meanwhile, must figure out how to survive in the wild—though never losing hope that his boy will return for him. As the protagonists struggle to reunite in a world in the grip of violence and destruction, they each find helpers who assist them on their respective journeys: Peter breaks his foot and is rehabilitated by Vola, a hermit suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, while Pax is taken in by a leash of foxes who teach him the basics of foraging and hunting. Pennypacker doesn't shy away from some of the more realistic aspects of war, though she keeps most of the violence slightly off-screen: in one scene, the wild foxes define war for the naive Pax as a "human sickness" that causes them to turn on their own kind, akin to rabies; later, as the battle creeps closer, several creatures are maimed and killed by land mines. Black-and-white drawings by Klassen offer a respite for readers, while adding to the haunting atmosphere.With spare, lyrical prose, Pennypacker manages to infuse this tearjerker with a tender hope, showing that peace and love can require just as much sacrifice as war. VERDICT A startling work of fiction that should be read—and discussed—by children and adults alike.—Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal

Review

“Pax the book is like Pax the fox: half wild and wholly beautiful.” (New York Times Book Review)

“Moving and poetic.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

“Pennypacker’s expert, evenhanded storytelling reveals stunning depth in a relatively small package.” (Booklist (starred review))

“In an exceptionally powerful, if grim story, Pennypacker does a remarkable job of conveying the gritty perspective of a sheltered animal that must instantly learn to live in the wild.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“A startling work of fiction that should be read-and discussed-by children and adults alike.” (School Library Journal (starred review))

“An emotional, thought-provoking story of conflict, loyalty, and love.” (The Horn Book)

“Sometimes an author steps aside from a popular series to break new ground, as evidenced in this arresting novel, at once a wilderness adventure about survival and a philosophical foray into big questions.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

“Pennypacker’s elegant language and insight into human nature spin a fable extolling empathy above all. By the novel’s poignant ending, Pennypacker has gently made the case that all of us should aspire to that view—children and adults alike.” (Time magazine)

“Searingly honest and heartbreakingly lovely, Pax is, quite simply, a masterpiece.” (Katherine Applegate, Newbery Award-winning author of The One and Only Ivan)

“A sweeping and enchanting wartime story of trust, loyalty, betrayal, and the love of a boy for the fox he’s raised since he was a kit. A master storyteller, Pennypacker leads the reader along a path of shifting hopes to the story’s heart-wrenching conclusion.” (Ann M. Martin, Newbery Honoree, author of Rain Reign)

“Pax is set in an unspecified time and place so that the details of the war are unimportant. What is prime is the graceful but haunting story of boy and fox—their relationship set against man-made chaos.” (Columbus Dispatch)
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 760 (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Balzer + Bray (February 2, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062377019
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062377012
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (152 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #604 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By delicateflower152 TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 2, 2016
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Targeted at the 8 – 12 year old group, Sara Pennypacker’s latest novel “Pax” is a book that carries universal truths and one that will touch readers of any age. Illustrated by Jon Klassen, the pen and ink drawings contained in the book enhance the story, strengthening the overall impact of the passages associated with each specific drawing.

Set in an unidentified country during an unspecified time, “Pax” serves to remind readers that war and destruction may affect anyone – or anything. Twelve-year old Peter has cared for his pet fox, “Pax”, for five years. Orphaned as a kit, “Pax” is now as domesticated as any wild animal can be; he has never had to survive in the wild. “…distrust is no match for kindness administered consistently and unmeasured …”

Having enlisted in the army, Peter’s father takes his son to live with his grandfather and demands that Peter release “Pax” back into the wild. Knowing Peter would not abandon him “Pax” waits patiently for his return. “…Pax would stay …ignore all temptations …until his boy came for him …” Haunted by his belief he has betrayed “Pax”, Peter leaves his grandfather’s home to recover his pet. A broken leg, an encounter with an amputee-veteran whose unnamed war occurred twenty years previously, and a realization – by both Peter and “Pax” – that each must be true to his own nature creates an emotional, poignant story that will touch your heart.

Writing in the third person voice, Sara Pennypacker alternates the focus of “Pax” between developments affecting Peter and those in which “Pax” learns what it is to be a fox. Each chapter remains true to the focal character. In Peter’s, the reader learns about his life and his past.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I bet the comparison to Charlotte's Web left you skeptical, right? But no, it's actually really that good.

I couldn't stop reading this book and I was so nervous during Pax's chapters. (I was very worried that he would get hurt or killed, and I can deal with the death of fictional people so much easier than I can deal with the death of fictional animals.)

I won't tell you how many times I cried during this book or how long it took me to stop crying at the end, but it's all so worth it. Get this book and share it with everyone you know.

Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
“Pax”, made by two well-known names- written by bestselling author Sara Pennypacker and illustrated by well-known artist Jon Klassen - is a beautiful story about the friendship between a boy named Peter and his fox Pax, endangered by the devastating war conflict.

Pax and Peter are friends since the day when the fox was young, but suddenly bad days are coming and they need to separate - Peter's dad enlists in the military and boy needs to return his friend to the wild. Now, separated by huge distance, both Peter and Pax are feeling miserable and though the dangers of war are all around, Peter decides to embark on the journey to reunite with his only true friend…

Sara Pennypacker, known for his “Clementine” series and “Meet the Dullards”, with her latest book delivers a profound and emotional read for younger school children which manages to keep attention through all of his 300 pages. It is a story of friendship, kindness, sacrifice, a wonderful message how important are friends in our lives.

Speaking about the artwork, Jon Klassen again produced beautiful illustrations characterized by appealing, though not so usually encountered, use of black and white that makes this book equally enjoyable to read and look.

Therefore, “Pax” with its beautiful story and remarkable artwork is work worth of recommendation – a book that would inspire children with its profound lesson.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A truly beautiful book however I think kids should be over 10 prior to reading it. It's message is powerful and at times very unsettling. I loved it and am wildly thinking of people I can buy it for (both adults and chikdren)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm an almost 60 year old man. My wife bought this book from because I love foxes. It's a beautifully written story. Have a box of tissues nearby. It has a proper ending. I won't say anything else about the story other than I enjoyed the journey immensely.
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I am a big fan of literature for young people, which can offer as much complexity and enjoyment as that meant specifically for adults. Here, while I admire the lengths Pennypacker went to in order to capture an authentic account of both Pax and "his boy" Peter's efforts to reunite, I was made uneasy by a central aspect of the book--its setting.

The story takes place during a nameless war, perhaps to square itself within the "new realism" genre. In this choice, Pennypacker offers a view of humans that is sometimes simplistic and heavy-handed ("You humans. You ruin everything"). We humans have indeed reaped what we have sown--an environment that largely deserts respect for the natural world--yet humans are much more than violent and destructive creatures. When a book sweeps me away I'll read it from cover-to-cover, yet I often felt reluctant to pick up Pax again because it felt more like an agenda.

That being said, there were aspects of Pax I found beautiful, such as the imagination it took to render a wild being both through its behaviors and inner life (I'm a wildlife biologist). The scenes dealing with the evolution of the relationship between Peter and Vola, and Peter's grief, were also genuine and heartbreaking: "My mother loved that. She said it [the story of the phoenix] meant that no matter how bad things got, we could always make ourselves new again". The illustrations by Jon Klassen are lovely additions to the text.
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