Fox 8 – George Saunders

This book is £10 and about 40 pages. Maybe 30 without illustrations. The best compliment I can give is I don’t regret a penny.

It’s funny, charming, affirming and just a little bit sad. I can only quote from the beginning without giving spoilers, but I think this sums it up. The narrator (a fox) has been listening outside a window as a mother reads stories to her children:

In that story was a Fox. But guess what the Fox was? Sly! Yes, true lee! He trikked a Chiken! He lerd this plump Chiken away from its henhowse, claming there is some feed in a stump. We do not trik Chikens! We are very open and honest with Chikens!

George Saunders, Fox 8, p6

As you can see, the spelling and voice are befitting of a fox who has learned “Yuman” from sitting outside a child’s bedroom, and this is the driving delight of the story. The main plot is supported by a small cast of other animal characters who are relentlessly positive and cutesy. Fox 8 remains surprising for its duration and there’s nothing overdone or unnecessary.

This story is a treat. Even if, thanks to a Booker-winning author, it has gotten away with being a standalone book when it could have been in a collection for the same price.

Inventive, endearing, nicely illustrated, and laugh-out-loud funny every two or three pages. I am recommending this to anyone who’ll listen.

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