Red Fox at McCloskey's Farm

Red Fox at McCloskey’s Farm by Brian J. Heinz and Chris Sheban.

Now this is one that I should save for Poetry Friday, but I just can’t!  I read this to my sons last night and had both of them listening intently all the way to the end, even though the older one had not started out listening at all. 

Red Fox is sneaking onto Farmer McCloskey’s farm to steal chickens, but as he heads in, he runs into the hound dog and then the farmer suspects there is trouble.  With so much unwanted attention, what’s a fox to do? 

The joy of reading this book aloud is twofold.  First is the poetry of the book itself.  Unlike a lot of poetic picture books for children, this one does not shy away from using beautiful words that will stretch listening children’s vocabularies.  This is something I look for in children’s poetry.  Poetry is language and to simplify it too much is to lose some of its power.  This poetry retains its imagery and power, allowing the listener to ride along carried forward by the flow of the language.  But the success of the book is also in the illustrations which are classic in one sense but almost riotously funny in the other.  The dreamy fox pictures where he is thinking of the juicy chicken capture the beauty of nature and the fox himself.  They are luciously and deeply colored.  But the illustrations of the pop-eyed hens and also the one of the farmer on his back in the pig sty are laugh-out-loud funny and zany. 

What a book!  Poetic phrasing and language combined with modern yet classic illustrations.  Share this one with children today!  You will love the language and kids will adore the fold-out pictures that will let them see even more.