Some books grab hold of your heart from the first page and don’t let go, even when you’ve reached the last page. When I first heard about Pax by Sara Pennypacker I knew that it was going to be one of those books and from the moment I picked it up I knew I was going to love it.
Pax and Peter have been inseparable ever since Peter rescued him as a kit. But one day, the unimaginable happens: Peter’s dad enlists in the military and makes him return the fox to the wild.
At his grandfather’s house, three hundred miles away from home, Peter knows he isn’t where he should be—with Pax. He strikes out on his own despite the encroaching war, spurred by love, loyalty, and grief, to be reunited with his fox.
Meanwhile Pax, steadfastly waiting for his boy, embarks on adventures and discoveries of his own.
Pax is a beautiful heart-breaking story about the connection between a boy and his pet fox. Sara Pennypacker makes you feel this connection between Peter and Pax and you read the story with hope that they’ll find each other but dread that they might not. Pax is also a story about never giving up, even when the odds are stacked against you. Both Pax and Peter face many challenges but they are determined to find each other. Sarah Pennypacker grabs you from the first chapter, giving you an immediate connection with Peter and Pax. It’s a very emotional start to a story (that will probably make you cry) and you have to know what will happen to Peter and Pax. Jon Klassen’s illustrations are stunning too. His illustration style perfectly captures the tone of the story.
The story starts with Peter leaving Pax in the woods at the side of the road and driving away. Peter’s father is going off to war so Peter has to go and stay with his grandfather. This means he is not allowed to take Pax with him and his father tells him he has to set him free. As you can imagine, this would be hard for any child to do, and you feel how hard it is for Peter to do this. Peter found Pax clinging to life as a kit. Peter’s mum had just died and so he found Pax when he really needed a friend. They had been inseparable ever since, until this day that Peter is forced to leave Pax. The story alternates between Peter and Pax’s point of view and we follow both of their journeys to find each other again. There are times that you wonder whether they will both actually survive long enough to do so.
I loved the characters of Peter and Pax, especially their determination. They will stay in my head for a long time and I already want to go back and read their story again. My favourite character though was Vola, a woman that Peter meets and who helps him. She’s a really interesting character because she has been damaged by war and is used to living alone. I love the way that her character develops just through her relationship with Peter.
Pax is an amazing story that I can’t praise enough. It is perfect for those who like stories with animals, for fans of Michael Morpurgo and highly recommended for those who have read The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.