‘Fantastic Mr.Fox’ by Roald Dahl was published in 1970. I cannot believe the years it has lived through and has remained relevant as well as entertaining. No doubt the world of talking animals will always be a favourite with children.
This is an adventurous tale of a fox and his intelligence against the humans.
Fantastic Mr.Fox is about this super genius fox – Mr. Fox, Mrs.Fox and their four little foxes living inside a hole under a tree.
The book begins with introducing us to the ‘three farmers’ – Boggis, Bunce and Bean. And, Roald Dahl reverses the cunning fox stereotype and paints these three farmers as rich, nasty and mean. Boggis is a chicken farmer and fat. Bunce is a duck-and-goose farmer and pot-bellied dwarf. Bean is a turkey-and-apple farmer and thin as a pencil who only drank cider.
Mr. Fox was dependent on these three farms for his supply of food. Every evening the fox would sneak upon the farm and steal either chicken or goose or turkey for his family.
Soon the three farmers got together to plan a trap for the fox and to kill him. Soon the fox with his family and the other small animals living underground are trapped by the humans. These animals survive without food and trapped inside until Mr. Fox outwits the humans.
It is a story of using intelligence, memory and staying determined. Mr.Fox never backs down or accepts failure. He stands optimist and leads the smaller animals living underground.
The writing is super humourous alongwith pencil sketch illustrations on every page, essentially a fun ride for the little ones. Though this humour brings in its own share of problems. First up, humour is at the expense of the physical attributes of the three farmers. So, clear discretion is required while reading it to the little one. Then the second problem is that the fox steals chicken, duck, goose and turkey from the farmers for food. However, the meat is dressed. While the smaller animals living in the burrows – rats, moles, weasels, badger and the rabbits are saved by the Fox; the birds become food. Ofcourse, one can explain the food cycle to the little ones.
In rescue to the Foxes, there is a section where the young foxes tell their father to get carrots for the hungry rabbits as they only eat vegetables. The feeling of compassion is foremost.
Roald Dahl does bring in redemption with the Badger questioning Mr.Fox if what he is doing is a good deed, stealing from the farmers? Mr.Fox answers he is doing it for his starving children and atleast, he hasn’t stooped to the level of the humans who are hellbent on killing the animals.
Read this book to know the end…Can Mr.Fox actually outwit three farmers who are excavating the whole hill to catch him?