We loved Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, so on a whim I requested from the library what I thought was an unknown title by the same author, Roald Dahl. I got Fantastic Mr. Fox, which we loved so much I have requested several more books by Dahl. I did not know when we read this that there is a recently made movie of it. We have not watched it yet, but it is on order.
This book reminded me of an "action flick." It is a fast paced book with a lot of plot twists. Each chapter is packed with lots of "action" and "adventure." The book is relatively short; we read it in two settings of abotu 30-45 minutes each. The girls were enraptured by the story and loved all the illustrations.
The book also reminded me of the movie Caddyshack. The plot involves a fox and his family, who live underground near three farmers. The bumbling farmers hate the foxes who steal their chickens and other farm animals. The farmers stake out the fox hole and end up shooting the main fox's tail off. The fox runs back into his hole, where his loving fox family cares for him.
The farmers decide that the foxes cannot live underground forever and must return to their farms some time. All three stake out the fox hole, leaving their farms unattended. The foxes get hungry and Mr. Fox, ever brilliant, decides to dig a network of grand tunnels underneath the ground. These tunnels take the foxes, as well as a bunch of other underground animals, directly to the wooden floors of the farmers' chicken coops, store houses, etc.
So, while the farmers meticulously guard the fox hole, the animals steal all they need from the farm buildings. One of the badgers asks Mr. Foxif it is OK to steal. Mr. Fox dismisses his concern, reminding them that they are stealing from people who want to kill them. We had some interesting discussions about morality: killing for food, stealing to avoid starving, etc.
Another questionable scene is when the animals break into the store house belonging to one of the farmers, find a stockpile of cider, and get drunk. This is somewhat glossed over, but still may cause some readers concern.
The girls loved this book. Normally I return chapter books to the library right away, but Catherine told me she wanted to look at the book by herself and took it to bed with her. Each night I have found her looking at the pictures and re-reading her favorite parts (Woohoo!). Both the girls frequently mention aspects of the story: will the fox's tail grow back? the foxes will never go above ground again, will they?
I highly recommend this book!