HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Fox in a Trap
Author: Jane Resh Thomas
Illustrator: Troy Howell
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers, reissued in 1990
ISBN-13: 978-0812489330 (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0812489330 (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0395544266 (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0395544262 (Paperback)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 9-12 and up
Rating: **** 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Thomas, Jane Resh. Fox in a Trap (published in 1987 by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Ave. S., New York City, NY 10003). Daniel Beckman, not quite ten, lives with his Pa and Mama and his new dog Lady on a farm in Michigan. He finds farm life boring and is excited by his Uncle Pete’s glamorous life as an outdoorsman and a writer, going whale hunting in Alaska and tarpon fishing in Florida. Some foxes begin raiding the chickens, and Daniel is angered when his father says that he will not like trapping, thinking his father believes him to be too young and irresponsible, so he asks Uncle Pete to help him set up a trap line. But what will Daniel think when he learns that they will be using dead kittens for bait? And how will he react when they find a chewed-off fox paw in one of the traps that looks almost exactly like Lady’s paw?
Said to be a sequel to Thomas’s The Comeback Dog (1981) which I have not read, this book, in which Daniel’s introduction to trapping occasions some unsettling questions, might seem on the surface to be anti-hunting, but at the end Uncle Pete says that hunting and fishing aren’t necessarily as cruel as leg-hold traps, and they all enjoy eating venison sausage from a big buck that Pa had killed. However, it is definitely anti-trapping, so whether one likes the book or not will largely depend on his view of animal trapping. Aside from this issue, it is interesting to see how Daniel develops and matures as he confronts the realities of having to kill the animals trapped by his snares and also as he reevaluates his relationships with his father and his uncle.