HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Fox Farm
Author: Eileen Dunlop
Jacket Illustrator: Mary Dinsdale
Publisher: Holt Rinehart and Winston, republished 1979
Language level: 3
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 10 and up
Rating: **** 4 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Dunlop, Eileen. Fox Farm (Published in 1978 by Oxford University Press in England; republished in 1979 by Holt Rinehart and Winston, New York City, NY). Ten year old Adam Hewitt grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, but his mother had died giving birth to his little sister who also died. His father, Andrew, known as ”Hew,” married Ruby Frazer and moved to Australia, leaving Adam in the care of the Social Work Department. After being in a children’s home and staying with several foster families, thin, red-haired, and watchful Adam has come to live with the Darkes at Fox Farm near Garlet in the Scottish countryside. The family consists of Mr. and Mrs. Darke, teens Anne and David, and young Richard who is a year or so older than Adam. The Darkes want to adopt Adam, but he holds out the hope that his father will send for him to come to Australia.
One day Mr. Darke has to shoot a fox which had killed some of their chickens. Shortly after that, Adam finds a stray fox cub which he names Foxy. He and Richard decide to keep the fox in an old tower on the farm and secretly try to raise it as a pet. Can the boys manage to get the money needed buy food for Foxy? How does the fox react to the attempts to train it? And what will happen with Adam? This cute children’s book isn’t necessarily about a fox, but more about the two boys and a growing friendship. The great theme of the plot is having the serenity to accept the things that one cannot change. Adam has been constantly disappointed by his biological father, yet he continues to fawn over him.
By caring for his fox, Adam gradually comes to accept the fact that he too has been abandoned but does have a place in his new foster family. Besides the facts that smoking a pipe is mentioned and some common euphemisms (e.g., “blasted”) occur, the “d” word is used twice, once by Richard. I really liked the story. I just don’t understand why some writers of youth fiction feel that they simply have to include some cursing and swearing or other bad language to make their books seem realistic and “relevant.” However, it is still a good tale, and those who like to read about foxes should especially enjoy it, even with the surprise at the end. There was an edition of the book published under the title Foxy.