The Plot In Five Sentences Or Less: Sara’s life as a Jewish girl in a small French town is upended in 1940 when Germany invades her country. As the precariousness of her new life under Nazi rule becomes undeniable, she is separated from her parents and hidden in a barn by a school acquaintance named Julian. The war draws on and Sara realizes that she may have to endure life in the barn for quite some time. With this understanding comes the grief that she may never see her parents again but also gratitude for the enormous risk that Julian and his family are taking to keep her hidden.
My Take: I was enormously impressed by this graphic novel. Palacio has certainly proven that she has more in her artistic well than just the popular book Wonder. I was gripped by the intensity of the story and the growing bonds between the characters as they suffer under Nazi cruelty. Due to some violent content, librarians and teachers may consider treating this a Teen rather than a Juvenile read. Highly recommended.
One Interesting Thing About The Author: In addition to writing, Palacio also illustrated the graphic novel.
The Plot In 5 Sentences Or Less: War is approaching and Peter’s father must go off to fight. Before he leaves, he forces Peter to leave his pet fox, Pax, in the woods; it is not welcome at his grandfather’s house where Peter must stay for the time being. After leaving Pax and traveling to his grandfather’s, Peter is wracked by guilt and decides that he must journey to find his fox. Alone in the woods, Pax learns the way of the wild foxes and learns that as the war draws closer, the animals must travel to safety. Both Peter and Pax find themselves on a journey on which they will discover much about themselves.
My Take: I thought that this was an engaging book from the first page. Pennypacker manages to relate the story of a child’s attachment to his pet in a way that is heartfelt but not sentimental. I also appreciated that she portrays realistic fox behavior but also uses a deft amount of anthropomorphism to draw in the reader. The foxes came across as both believable animals and interesting characters. I found that the narrative slowed down a touch when Peter sought refuge at a hermit’s house, but I thought the ending was sheer magic and more than made up for it.
One Interesting Note About The Author: Pennypacker is also the author of the Clementine book series.