Daniel Clausen's Reviews > Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl
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Sep 13, 2011

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I've always been a fan of Roald Dahl books. As an ESL teacher I've had the pleasure of using his books as teaching instruments as well. In the heady days of my graduate program I find myself often turning to kids books for relief. First, there was my favorite, Where the Wild Things Are--which I am happy to say I have copies of in both Japanese and English. Then, there was Maniac Magree. This one was perhaps my favorite because I WAS Maniac Magee growing up. There are others I would like to return to, but the Fanastic Mr. Fox is the one I picked up because it looked like it was well illustrated and because...well, it was thin and easy.

The book was all of these things: well illustrated, easy to read, and full of hilarity. But I wonder at the message of the book, if there is one. Three nasty farmers: Bunce, Boggis, and Bean. Three farmers who we are led to believe are nasty, vile, and (this is only hinted at) make there fortune off of poor share croppers and low-wage labor. They are villains simple and true. One is fat and balding, the other a pot-bellied dwarf, and the other thin as a pencil and addicted to apple cider. But as I grow older, I wonder what to make of these villains. I'm in poor shape myself these days. As I get further on in my years, I am both thin as a rail and pot-bellied at the same time. I have the villainous look of both a Bean and a Boggis. I often shake my first a clever youths, who I am scared will steal what little wealth I have.

In the last picture, with the three poor farmers sitting out in the rain waiting for the fox to come out of his hole, I feel less like the triumphant Fantastic Mr. Fox and more like one of those poor farmers. It makes me think that Mr. Dahl has had all of the triumph of the Fox without any empathy for the misery of the farmers. I suppose there is little for me to feel sorry for. After all, they horde their food in great storehouses without distributing it to the neediest. Fox, a family man earnest and true, on the other hand is an animal Robin Hood. Still, I feel there has to be some conclusion out there that allows the animals and the farmers to get along.

Perhaps the meaning of the book has out-Foxed me. Or, perhaps I have grown too old to enjoy a simple kids book. I will return to Roald Dahl another time, sometime when I am not busy watching my own storehouse of food and shaking my fist at today's youth.
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message 1: by Ethan (new) - added it

Ethan Awesome book. I do not see the moral.

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