Pax by Sara Pennypacker (Illustrated by Jon Klassen)

PaxThis book was both adorable & heartbreaking; the first chapter made me cry, as did a few toward the end, but for the most part I smiled at the cuteness of this tale. This book is listed as a children’s book (I’d say middle grade) but it’s certainly something that people of all ages can enjoy due to the depth of the characters & the beauty of the writing.

This book contains discussions of war & animal suffering

Anyone who knows me will be able to guess that I first noticed this book because of it’s cover – if you stick a fox on the front of a book there’s a 99% chance that I’ll read it – but the synopsis also told me that this would be a book that I would enjoy. Pax is the story of a boy & his fox fighting to find each other again after Peter (the boy) is forced to abandon Pax (his fox) when his father goes to war. This story is guaranteed to tug at your heart strings, but it will also make you think about war in ways that you’ve possibly never considered before.

The main reason this story really works is because of the depth of the characters, all of the characters. Peter himself is a boy that has experienced tragedy very early on in life & this has shaped who he is, & his relationship with Pax. Vola, someone who we meet during Peter’s adventure, has also experienced tragedy, but a very different kind of tragedy, & it has left her deeply damaged. Moreover, each of the foxes that we get to meet during Pax’s adventure also have strong & layered personalities that make you forget that each one is “just a fox”. Bristle is feisty & a very strong female character, whilst her little brother Runt is such a sweet & innocent soul. All of the main players in this book develop a lot during the 278 pages & it’s some of the finest character development that I’ve read for a while.

There is a disease that strikes foxes sometimes.
It causes them to abandon their ways, to attack strangers.
War is a human sickness like this.” 

pg. 65

Another reason that I loved this book so much is the fact that it makes you think; books about war always leave me deep in thought, but Pax left me thinking deeply about an aspect of war that I’ve never really considered before… & that is the effect that human fighting has on the animals of this world. Through the fox characters in the book we get to see firsthand exactly the type of destruction human bickering can have upon the innocent creatures we share this planet with, & it truly broke my heart. This book is described as a children’s book but there may be some people out there that think that books about war & animal/human suffering are too heavy for a children’s story; but with the state our world is currently in, I have to disagree with that notion. I think books like Pax are incredibly important right now & the children of the Western world need to understand what impact our fighting can have on the rest of the planet. My mum works in a primary school & she agrees with me that books like this should be explored more in schools because we just don’t focus on our recent history enough in this country.

How many pets had they left behind to fend for themselves?
And why didn’t anyone count those things?
“People should tell the truth about what War costs,” Vola had said.
Weren’t those things the costs of war too?
” 

pg. 250

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The final reason this book has captured my heart is because of the beautiful writing & the stunning illustrations! The writing is so, so lovely & I’m desperate to read more of Sara’s work. On top of the beautiful writing, this book also provides some stunning drawings (one of which I plan to photocopy for my bedroom wall) that really helped to make this story. I really wish that YA books had illustrations such as these in them because I think they’re charming & can always add to a story.

Add to goodreadsAs you can tell, I really loved this book, so I 100% recommend it to everyone; even if it isn’t your usual type of read! You can buy it using the links below:
Amazon.co.ukAmazon.comBook DepositoryWordery

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5 thoughts on “Pax by Sara Pennypacker (Illustrated by Jon Klassen)

      • I don’t cope well (at all, ever) with anything bad happening to animals 😢. I think I will love it when I read it though (but I’ll have to save it for a day when I don’t need to leave my house 😂.) I’ve been putting off the One and Only Ivan for nearly a year because just looking at the cover makes me cry 😭😭

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  1. There’s two scenes that are pretty heartbreaking but most of it will make you smile! I’ve not heard of The One & Only Ivan before but I’ve just added it to my TBR – I think I need to read more animal books!

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