Classic story of old-fashioned North American fox hunting and the “fox who got away”.
As I sat reading Haunt Fox by Jim Kjelgaard, it seemed vaguely familiar. I suspect that I first read it when I was about 8 years old. I could just feel my youthful interior reading with glee about this sly and noble fox and his grand adventures!
Unfortunately, this book and pretty much all others by Jim Kjelgaard are out of print and most likely will remain so. As far as I can tell, Haunt Fox was originally published in 1954 and the copy I borrowed from my local library has the cover pictured below, printed in 1981 by Bantam Books.
Such a shame — they just don’t write books like this any more! It comes from a rare and dying breed that I have a fond connection to, from my youth. I believe it belongs in a cozy group of Old Animal Classics along with titles by Marguerite Henry (Misty, King of the Wind, etc). In fact, she even had a little-known book called Cinnabar the One O’Clock Fox — perhaps I should reread that one next! However, Cinnabar is much more anthropomorphic than Haunt Fox. He dances, sings songs, and even rides the back of a running sheep. Haunt Fox is more realistic, expertly portraying the life of a wild fox — one that lives and hunts in the hills and valleys which are also populated with several families of farmers and hunters — AND the fox’s rival, a wild cat who killed his brother and later hunted his mate and cubs.
I sincerely hope to find a good clean copy of Haunt Fox and a few others by Jim Kjelgaard, before I have grandchildren old enough to appreciate them. Perhaps some day in a lonely out of the way bookstore in a tiny little town…
Call me an old fashioned sap, but I just don’t WANT to see my grandchildren’s generation grow up without stories like these! It is bad enough that my own children know them so little. 😥
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This book is set in the fairly recent past, rural USA.
The main character is a male red fox.
There are 12 chapters, each approximately 16 pages long.
The copy of the book I read has 196 pages and about 280 words per page.
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If your children or grandchildren like foxes and other wild animals — or if you can entice them to sit still and listen to you read these out loud — why not have a little project of comparing the three classic foxy characters below? I still remember reading Cinnabar to my son when he was 5 years old — and we still have the little Cinnabar bookmark he made as part of that “project”. A treasured memory, indeed! 😀
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- A nice blog post with interesting details about the author Jim Kjelgaard
- A simple fan website with reviews of Jim Kjelgaard’s books
- Another unofficial fan site, with several links to more info
- Jim Kjelgaard books which are still available on Amazon.com
- An interesting page about Marguerite Henry
- Wiki on fox hunting, including history and current status
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PLEASE UNDERSTAND: I do NOT enjoy stories where animals are tortured or otherwise suffer great fear or physical harm. You can rest assured that Haunt Fox does not have any scenes that would turn a tender stomach or offend an empathetic heart (like mine!), other than a scene involving the wild cat as predator. The fox in this story is portrayed as mostly enjoying the hunt, especially the challenge of outsmarting the hounds and the hunters. While I do not support fox hunting, I recognize it as a significant part of rural culture of days gone by — and a fun way to build a sly, resourceful character of a fox! 😉