If a Book Were a Song #8 ‘Pax’ by Sara Pennypacker

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.)

  Those who love ‘Pax’ will also love ‘The Loner’.


Bonding. Wilderness. Love. Emotion. Warmth.

‘Two of Us’ – Supertramp





  • Jerry Yuan
    Posted at 09:47h, 22 May Reply

    Pax: the bond between boy and fox

    ‘I had a fox. I have fox.
    We turned him loose.
    We left him on the side
    of the road.My dad said
    we had to, but I should
    never have done it.’

    This is the heart-wrenching story describing the unbreakable bond between a boy and his fox.

    The war had neared and all the men had to do their part. Peter’s father had signed up and had ordered the boy to turn his pet fox,Pax, loose. Peter had refused and he had seen a flicker of rage shine through his father’s eyes. Peter had lost his mother and now he was going to lose his best friend.

    Will the boy ever meet his closest companion ever again?

    Pax is a very touching story created by Sara Pennypacker. It describes the connection between boy and fox. There is only one word to describe it. Inseparable. Yet the impossible has once again proved possible. The two are torn apart because of the incoming war, both yearning to meet each other just one more time.

    One event that strengthens the twos bond is the fact that Peter had saved Pax as a young kit. Pax’s true born mother and siblings had all died so when Peter rescued the fox, to Pax it meant his survival and wellbeing, to Peter it meant a life-long friend and an always faithful, reliable and very trustworthy companion.

    This story shows the affect of war on any living thing, how close relationships can come through pain, recognition, and respect to each other, and finally determination in tasks.

    War in many perspectives may only affect some people fighting the war. But Sally Pennypacker in this story has proven how one application to a war destroyed the connection between to strong friends.

    Another important aspect that Sara again wonderfully presents is the fact that unlike other stories about boy and animal, this story presents the two friends as equals. Pax is just as crucial to the story as Peter is. Being inseparable once again contributes to the ability to keep both characters in view. In addition, Sara also alternates between both perspectives every chapter.

    The last and final plus to the story is the implementation of never-ending determination into both crucial characters creates a trust and relation between the reader and characters. It helps the reader imagine and relive the fictional characters story, feeling the humour, pain, happiness and sadness the characters go through.

    Horrific, infuriating and uplifting at turns, this riveting tale of previously unbreakable friends torn apart from war and betrayal will have readers breathless to the very last heartrending page.

    In the end Peter is forced to make the hardest decision of his life.

    ‘I’ll always leave the porch door open, but you have to go.’

    They had always been inseparable, but the impossible might just be the possible.

    • tim
      Posted at 20:40h, 22 May Reply

      Thanks for a great review, Jerry. It sure if a ripper read!

Post A Comment