Bibliographic Information: Dahl, Roald. (2007). Fantastic Mr. Fox. New York: Puffin Books.
Plot Description: Mr. Fox lives a happy life, in his hole with Mrs. Fox and their four young foxes. Mr. Fox provides for his family by stealing chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys from the three rich, nasty farmers in the valley. The farmers all know Mr. Fox is the one who has been stealing from them, so they decide to team up to catch him and end his stealing once and for all. In their first attempt Mr. Fox loses his lovely tail, but he won’t be caught off guard a second time. The farmers get tired of waiting for Mr. Fox to come back out of his hole, so they try to dig down to it, but they are no match for the Fox family who just digs deeper. So the farmers get their machines to try to out dig the foxes, but still to no avail. Just when it seems the foxes may starve in their hole, Mr. Fox has a brilliant idea to save the day.
Quantitative Reading Level: Lexile Measure: 600L Interest Level: Middle Grades ATOS Book Level: 4.1
Qualitative Reading Analysis: Organization is clear and chronological. Illustrations directly support understanding of text, though they are not necessary for comprehension, For example, ‘this is what happened to the hill,’ (p.27) is followed by an illustration of what the hill looked like, but the sentences after the picture describe the hill being like a crater, so the illustrations are not needed, but certainly enhance the readers experience. The author uses figurative language, such as alliteration, for example: Fantastic Mr. Fox. Sentences are mostly simple and compound in construction. Vocabulary is familiar and conversational. Language closely adheres to the reader’s linguistic base. There are multiple levels of meaning and themes, some of which are clearly stated and others of which are implied and require more in-depth consideration. The story is told by a third person narrator who is reliable and provides appropriate levels of detail. The text presents situations that will be unfamiliar to the reader, but not difficult for the reader to understand. Students may connect with the animals decision to work together for mutual benefit.
Content Area: Reading, Literature
Content Area Standard:
English Language Arts Standards for Reading: Literature: Key Ideas and Details: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.1Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
English Language Arts Standards: Language: Vocabulary Acquisition and Use: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.5.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
English Language Arts Standards: Language: Vocabulary Acquisition and Use: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.5.5.a Interpret figurative language, including similes and metaphors, in context.
Curriculum Suggestions: Have students design a new machine that could help the farmers catch Mr. Fox. Create a new tail for Mr. Fox. Have students research the impact of heavy digging machinery of environments and wildlife. Have students predict or suggest possible solutions for the Fox family’s problems. Do you agree with Mrs. Fox that Mr. Fox is fantastic? Use supporting details from the book to justify your answer. Have students make an alliteration using their name and an adjective to describe themselves. Come up with adjectives to describe various characters in the story and see if you can make an alliteration, for example, Rude Rat.
Supporting Digital Content:
Awards: Bilby Award
Character names/descriptions: Mr. Fox, the family man (fox) and sly thief. Farmer Boggis is the enormously fat chicken farmer, Farmer Bunce is the potbellied dwarf duck and goose farmer and Farmer Bean, the pencil thin alcoholic turkey and apple farmer. All three farmers are rich and nasty.
Personal Thoughts: I particularly like the illustrations in this book and the simple story that has multiple layers of meaning.
High interest annotation: Three nasty farmers set out to catch Mr. Fox, the thief who keeps stealing from their farms, but Mr. Fox is too clever for them.