“Pax” could be described as a coming-of-age story. In this case, both the titled character Pax, a red fox, and his friend-owner, Peter, will be called upon to use their intelligence, courage, and perseverance to survive and mature.
Awarding-winning author Sara Pennypacker has written a moving and, often intense, novel that beautifully describes the bond between human and pet. She focuses on the journey that Peter and Pax take to be rejoined after a heartbreaking separation.
Peter is a thirteen-year-old boy who lives alone with his father. He found Pax in the woods and raised the orphaned kit. When the father volunteers to join the army and fight in the war, Peter must move in with his grandfather and there is no place for Pax in his new home. In the emotional opening pages of the story, Peter must abandon Pax in a forest.
Alternating between two points of view, Pennypacker unfolds the story of how boy and fox search for each other. Peter faces a number of obstacles that force him to reevaluate who he is. Pax, who has never lived in the wild, must learn how to hunt and defend himself. Pennypacker gives voice to both the boy and the fox.
The issue of war is another theme in the story. As we follow Peter on his journey to find Pax, the reader learns what war has done to people and animals in the area. Only a brief mention is given as to the cause of the war–the fight over water rights.
Young readers who enjoy realistic animal stories will appreciate this novel. There are, however, some very strong, vivid images that describe how Pax learns to survive in the forest and the devastation brought on by the war. This book is suggested for readers ages 10-14.