16 Oct If a Book Were a Song #8 ‘Pax’ by Sara Pennypacker
If a Book Were a Song #8
PAX by Sara Pennypacker (HarperCollins 2016)
Twelve-year-old Peter’s deep bond with his fox, Pax, is severed when his father forces him to abandon his beloved pet because he is leaving for war. Sent to stay with his grandfather some three hundred miles away, Peter’s instinct tells him that Pax needs him. And he needs Pax. So, he packs a bag and sets off on a cross-country adventure in the hopes of being reunited with the fox.
Pax, meanwhile, is learning to deal with the harsh reality of trying to survive in the wild. He’s always had Peter to look after him, and he quickly realises that survival is a difficult task. He soon bumps into a hostile fox (Bristle) and her bouncy sibling, Runt. There’s also the older fox, Grey, who takes Pax under his wing.
The chapters of ‘Pax’ alternate between the perspective of the boy and the fox. Sara Pennypacker does this flawlessly. The pacing of the story is simply sublime – there is enough action to keep the narrative moving forward, but the characters are allowed to grow through the patient storytelling of a master wordsmith.
One of my favourite books of all time is ‘The Loner’ by Ester Wier. ‘Pax’ took me back to the warm feelings of emotion I had when I first read ‘The Loner’. Both stories are set in rugged landscapes, and the characters are earthy. I especially loved the relationship between Vola (a kindly stranger) and Peter. For me, this was an extension of the relationship between David and Boss in ‘The Loner’. There’s something magical about the wisdom an older lady can bestow on a runaway.
John Klassen’s hauntingly stylish illustrations are used sparingly throughout – a classy touch to what is a beautifully packaged and written book.
‘Pax’ is the pick of the books I’ve read so far in 2017. I may have even shed a tear. (But don’t tell anyone else I said that.)
IF THIS BOOK WERE A SONG …
Bonding. Wilderness. Love. Emotion. Warmth.
‘Two of Us’ – Supertramp