Have you been making time for fox stories in your life recently? If not it’s time to track down two fabulous newish fox fables. One is Outfoxed by Mike Twohy (2013) and the other is That is Not a Good Idea by the famous Mo Willems (also 2013).
Willems is well loved for his Pigeon books (starting with the hilarious, so-original Don’t Let the Pigeon Ride the Bus, Knuffle Bunny, and the super fun beginning reader series Elephant and Piggie which is all dialogue and is the 21st century’s brilliant answer to Dr. Seuss).
That is Not a Good Idea is staged like a silent movie with the fox dressed as a sneaky villain. Its conceit is black pages with white words like at a silent movie. A fox sees a goose who he imagines for dinner. And she seems willing to go along naively with his proposals such as “would you care to go for a stroll?” The little goslings are watching this unfold and exclaiming with building urgency “that is not a good idea!”
The way Mo Willems gets to the surprise ending is fun and satisfying.
A book that is even more fun is Outfoxed. Don’t look now, but we have another sneaky fox on the scene and he has just raided the hen house. Uh-oh, but when he gets home he finds that what he stuffed in his coat appears to be a duck instead. “Honestly- I felt more like chicken,” he says, “but a duck will do.”
Sounds like this duck’s goose is cooked, so to speak. But with a little quick thinking the duck sets out to convince the fox that he is really a dog. He sniffs Fox’s leg, slobbers all over him, and even pees on his carpet. As the story goes along, we see fox struggling to decide whether he has a duck or a dog.
The book is illustrated simply and perfectly with very little background detail. It is hilarious to the very end. Preschool and first grader classes I’ve shared it with have loved it, but adults chortle hard too.