Friday, March 28, 2008


Fox by Kate Banks and illustrated by Georg Hallensleben is a picture book I've come to love. Some books I know I want to own after the first read and some like Fox, I fall in love with after the third or fourth reading. It's like a favorite pair of jeans or that wine label you've come to trust.

Fox is a book to linger over, the narrative is quite lyrical and try reading it slowly or even whisper. The story is basically about the year in the life of a woodland fox. And yet the text is filled with beautiful metaphors. You can't help but think of your own children experiencing the seasons, learning what you teach them so they will grow into healthy, intelligent, kind, and self-sufficient adults.

"She shelters them in the shade of a tree.
Overhead, the branches sigh
like a lullaby setting the world at ease.

And the birds come and go.
And the saplings grow into tall, stately trees."

Georg Hallensleben's paintings are dreamy. His palette is rich with emerald green, burnt-orange, aqua blue and the colors of nature we see in our memories of that perfect hike. His impressionist style paintings are to be studied in the slow, lingering way the story is told. The mama, papa and baby fox move together to find food, shelter and avoid danger.

"And as the orange sun
leaves the sky, like a big goodbye,
the little fox goes.
And the mama fox knows
and the papa fox too
that he will be fine."

There has been a lot of talk with friends about schools with my eldest baby entering kindergarten age. And a lot of anxiety over which schools are best suited for their child's social development and intellectual stimulation. Some friends will move into better districts, take on extra jobs to pay for expensive private schools, attend the neighborhood school or homeschool. I was reminded of this questioning when reading a post at Her Bad Mother about Montessori. And then I realized that much of the anxiety has to do with our own separation anxiety. Kindergarten is the first step in sending that little fox off into the world to survive on its own.

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