“Fantastic Mr. Fox” by Roald Dahl is a fun little book with bold and confident characters. Dahl’s celebrated writing style is fun to read and offers much for the imagination. I am biased as I write this book review, due to the fact that I had watched the Wes Anderson movie “Fantastic Mr. Fox” well before ever reading the book. So as I was reading, the movie characters and scenes came to life all over again, which made me very happy. The movie is stunning, by the way! But, back to the book…
The main character, Mr. Fox, enjoys stealing food from the mean local farmers. However, even as clever as Mr. Fox thinks himself to be, the farmers still find out about his thefts. And so, they begin their plot to kill Mr. Fox and his family and keep their farms safe. Mr. Fox thinks up an outrageous plan to continue stealing from them – but from underground. Let’s just say, it would take a very fantastic fox to accomplish this feat.
Recommended Age Group?
Dahl uses some violent images as these farmers spend the entirety of the novel figuring out the best ways to destroy the fox and his family, and they speak like mean old farmers, thirsting for a kill. I was actually quite surprised with some of the language used throughout the novel, as I had originally assumed this book was for small children. However, when I actually looked at the targeted age, it recommended 8-12 years old. I wouldn’t read this novel to an 8-year-old. Instead, I would increase the age range from 10-13 (grades 4-8). At this age, you can help the child to understand why the farmers speak as they do, and why they are so desperate to kill this fox.
This book is classroom approved, however, if you choose to read “Fantastic Mr. Fox” as a read-aloud, you may want to edit a few words along the way, depending on the age range of your students.
It’s a fun read and kids will enjoy the plot. However, keep in mind that the fox outsmarts these farmers and ends up finding a way to steal from them for the rest of their lives. There is no moral, and stealing is glorified. If you want your students to be able to take away a happy, feel-good life lesson, this is not the book you want. If you’re looking for a fun read that will get your students laughing and smiling, then you’ve found a great option.