April 8, 2016

Review: Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee


Review:  Maybe a Fox  by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee

Sylvie and Jules.

Jules and Sylvie.

Jules adores her older-by-one-year sister, Sylvie.

Sylvie: beautiful like their mother.
Sylvie: supreme maker of tiny snow families.
Sylvie: faster than fast.

Sylvie: gone.

Into thin air, Sylvie goes missing, and as Jules stumbles in grief, a fox cub is born. A shadow fox, spirit and animal in one. From the minute the cub opens her eyes, she senses something very wrong. Someone—Jules.

Jules: steadfast like their father.
Jules: supreme maker of tiny snow foxes.
Jules: collector of rocks.

Jules: heartbroken.

Who is this Jules? Who is this Sylvie she cries out for? And why does the air still prickle with something unsettled? As that dark unknown grows, the fates of the girl Jules and the fox cub, laced together with wishes and shadowy ties, are about to collide.

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Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee
Published by: Simon & Schuster  on March 8, 2016


This title was provided to us by the Publisher/Author. We were in no way compensated for our review(s).


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GabbyNewI was curious to start authors Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee’s Maybe A Fox. For one thing, the title was unique and the novel’s premise—promising a heartbreaking story about two sisters separated by loss—was one that touched especially close to my heart. As the older sister to a nine-year-old, Maybe A Fox is most older sibling’s worst nightmares (which I’ll get into later). Maybe A Fox, despite being marketed toward a middle grade audience, is a novel that brought me to tears almost every single chapter, and in the end left me sobbing. Maybe A Fox is a heartbreaking, beautiful read that I think all readers would enjoy.

              Sisters Jules and Sylvie are separated by only a year in age, with Sylvie being the eldest of the two. The two girls live near the neighboring woods where, not far from the river behind their house, is the Slip. The Slip is a place forbidden for Jules and Sylvie to go to for the potential dangers it represents. Regardless of their differences, Jules and Sylvie are as close as can be, but everything changes when Sylvie passes away. Devastated by her grief, Jules mourns her sister’s loss, and not far from her home a fox cub named Senna is born. As Jules learns to navigate a world without Sylvie, she begins to uncover her sister’s secrets while Senna watches over her from afar, wondering why it is she feels an acute closeness to the human Jules.

              It’s unsurprising that for such a short read, Maybe A Fox would be a novel that I would read through quickly and with ease. It is easily the kind of novel that a person could read in one sitting. Appelt and McGhee write the novel in such a way that it is impossible to not be drawn in by the novel’s innocent and beautiful writing, and by the novel’s heart-wrenching story.

              Maybe A Fox is, I think, most sibling’s worst nightmares. As someone who is an older sibling reading Maybe A Fox, watching Jules grieve for her sister leaves you on the outside looking in as someone’s little sister experiences a sorrow that is written with horrible, fantastic realism. Every single chapter of Maybe A Fox reduced me to a crying wreck. Readers watch Jules grieve and are overcome with sadness for her, and for the gravity of her situation. Though the novel is one that is written for a middle grade audience, it is a hard-hitting novel that emotional readers should be prepared for prior to reading.

              Everything about Maybe A Fox is spectacular. From the introduction to Sylvie and Jules’ relationship to the use of animals known as the Kennen, Maybe A Fox is a masterful read that will resonate with readers of all ages. Readers who are looking for an easy-to-read, beautiful novel should give Maybe A Fox a try. Any readers who are looking for a novel that is sweet, heartbreaking, and simple should also give it a try. Maybe A Fox is, undoubtedly, a novel that everyone should take the time to pick up and experience with all of their being.


About Kathi Appelt

Lives in College Station, TX with husband Ken and four adorable cats.

Two sons, both musicians.

Serves on the faculty at Vermont College of Fine Arts in the MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults Program.


About Alison McGhee

Alison McGhee is the award-winning author of picture books, poems, and novels for all ages, including the young adult novel ALL RIVERS FLOW TO THE SEA and the #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestseller SOMEDAY, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. Alison McGhee lives in Minnesota.


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