Mock Newbery 2022 discussion

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Book of the Month - 2017 > March Read- Pax

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message 1: by Kristen (new)

Kristen Jorgensen (sunnie) | 560 comments Mod
Pax is written by Sara Pennypacker and illustrated by Jon Klassen. Starred reviews are already marking this as a strong Newbery contender. What did you think of it?


message 2: by Laura (new)

Laura Harrison | 384 comments Brilliant. Jon Klassen's illustrations truly added to my enjoyment of Pax. It will be difficult to beat this title for the Newbery gold. Kate DiCamillo's Raymie Nightingale is Pax's closest challenger.


message 3: by Martha (new)

Martha This felt like a full story, delving into the feelings and minds so well that they are you - you are them.


message 4: by Czechgirl (new)

Czechgirl | 214 comments My students will love this book. I gave it four stars. I loved reading the alternating chapters of the different points-of-view both from the boy and the fox. Every chapter I read from the fox, I loved. I worried about the fox's fate. I started liking the boy's point of view, also, but once the boy injured himself and had to stay at that lady's house for a week--that part of the story disinterested me some--especially the making of the marionette puppets.


message 5: by Emily (new)

Emily Andrus | 15 comments I also loved everything from the fox's point of view--so well done and unique! But I agree with Czechgirl in that I got a little disinterested in the boy's story. I'm torn with this book because, yes, it is so well written but from a personal standpoint, I did not enjoy the utterly depressing story.


message 6: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Levy (teachreadrepeat) | 4 comments The underlying theme of human destruction and its effects on animals may not be the main theme of this book, but it stuck with me the most. The illustrations were beautiful and I adored the chapters from Pax's POV. I feel Sara Pennypacker did a fantastic job channeling a fox's thoughts, emotions, and actions.


message 7: by Laura (new)

Laura Harrison | 384 comments Sarah wrote: "The underlying theme of human destruction and its effects on animals may not be the main theme of this book, but it stuck with me the most. The illustrations were beautiful and I adored the chapter..."

I completely agree.


message 8: by Beverly (new)

Beverly (bevarcher) | 23 comments This is my next read. One of my students has already read it. She loved it and told me i should buy it for the library.


message 9: by Ana (new)

Ana Marlatt | 73 comments I loved the way the author wrote about the foxes: how they communicated and interacted. It was so natural... Incredible! The story was beautiful but also very sad. The writing was supreme... but the actual story made me anxious throughout. The separation between the fox and the boy was very hard for me to read. Well, I guess this is why this book is so memorable. It definitely makes a strong impression.


message 10: by Ana (new)

Ana Marlatt | 73 comments I loved the way the author wrote about the foxes: how they communicated and interacted. It was so natural... Incredible! The story was beautiful but also very sad. The writing was supreme... but the actual story made me anxious throughout. The separation between the fox and the boy was very hard for me to read. Well, I guess this is why this book is so memorable. It definitely makes a strong impression.


message 11: by Kate (new)

Kate | 172 comments Emily wrote: " I also loved everything from the fox's point of view--so well done and unique! But I agree with Czechgirl in that I got a little disinterested in the boy's story."
I agree that the story of the foxes is the strength of Pax. The humans seem very hopeless. At they end, each is alone, damaged and without love.


message 12: by Jenni (new)

Jenni | 77 comments Oh my! I think we are starting off the year with a very strong contender. I really liked the pace of the story and there were lots of examples of distinguished and thoughtful writing. I think this story will be appealing to all types of readers.
I did not feel the sense of hopelessness some of the other commenters mentioned. The story definitely ends on a very hopeful note with the humans restoring their relationships. If anything, I think the message is, it takes time to recover from loss and everyone's journey looks different.
This was just a lovely book. My only complaint is I would've liked a few more illustrations from Klassen.


message 13: by Becky (new)

Becky Palgi | 1 comments This is an amazing story on so many levels. I like the way the fundamental Buddhist belief of Funi, which means "two but not two," flows throughout the novel. Life and its environment are "inseparable" as Peter, Pax, and Vola struggle to overcome the physical and emotional effects of past actions. While everything doesn't tie up neatly at the end, it's clear that the characters have begun the journey to liberate themselves from the consequences of past actions, and each one has grown by the end of the story. They begin to discover that sometimes the apple does fall very far from the tree, and there is hope that they will continue to change their circumstances and live in harmony with their environment.


message 14: by Missy (new)

Missy O'bryan | 1 comments Best book I've read this year. "Sometimes doing the right thing is the hardest thing of all."


message 15: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl | 11 comments I really enjoyed the book. My biggest concern was the setting. I felt that I did not have a clear where or when this book took place. She introduced a war with actual placement of bombs where there was no sighting of an enemy. I enjoyed the character development of the main characters. The information about foxes and the sentence level writing was good. I just have setting questions.


message 16: by Kate (new)

Kate | 172 comments Cheryl wrote: "I felt I did not have a clear where or when this book takes place.

I also struggled with issues of place and time while reading Pax. The fictional setting was in a world with electricity, telephones and automobiles. But they did not appear to have television or cell phones.

Since there has not been a war on U.S. soil since the Civil War in the 1860s, I postulated a European, or even African, setting. But was really not sure about the terrain or animal life in those locations.

Although this troubled me, I expect children who read the book will not be concerned.


message 17: by Laura (new)

Laura Harrison | 384 comments Kate wrote: "Cheryl wrote: "I felt I did not have a clear where or when this book takes place.

I also struggled with issues of place and time while reading Pax. The fictional setting was in a world with electr..."


The time and place are not specified. I think it adds to the wonder of the story. The reader uses their own imagination. Pretty brave, creative an unique for Pennypacker to have written Pax this way.


message 18: by Serenity (new)

Serenity (serenity123) | 13 comments Looks like I jumped into this group at the right time, I am reading Pax right now. Glad I'm not the only one who is totally engaged by Pax's chapters but no so sure about Peter's. It's a good book, but I'm finding I can only read one or two chapters at a time before I need to put it down and read something else for a little while.


message 19: by Cathy (new)

Cathy (cathyothelibrarian) | 3 comments I just finished Pax, I thought setting was fine, while there was a war, it did not try to be any particular war, and I think that from a child' point of view, this is how it would seem. However some of the plot points seemed too random. That he would brake his foot and just happen to land in someone's yard who can and is willing to help him was a bit too coincidental. Though I did like the relationship between those two quite a bit, I just wonder if there was a better way to get there. I absolutely LOVE Klassen's pictures and think they were perfect for the tone of the book and added greatly to the story. I think I was looking more forward to the next picture than what was happening to the characters. I also appreciated at the end that he let Pax go, but I wonder where that left the boy. His story didn't really tie up. Anyway, I enjoyed it, but wouldn't necessarily put it up for Newbery, but it is still early in the year!


message 20: by Angie (new)

Angie J | 6 comments Kate wrote: "Emily wrote: " I also loved everything from the fox's point of view--so well done and unique! But I agree with Czechgirl in that I got a little disinterested in the boy's story."
I agree that the s..."


I agree with your post. I have a hard time recommending this to my students. It seemed a sad, depressing story. Not my favorite book of the year!


message 21: by Jen (new)

Jen Ferry (librarygarden) | 86 comments I finished Pax a few weeks ago and couldn't stop reading it. Pennypacker's book is stunningly brilliant. Peter had such wonderful dedication and a love for Pax that I didn't want the book to end. As Peter's relationship with Vola becomes tighter, he helps her grow and accept her pain, as much as she helps him make changes in his life..
I wondered about the setting as well but, as I continued to read I decided that it wasn't all that important. I feel Pennypacker did this to let us determine the place and the conflict. By doing this the book becomes timeless.
I believe that this book will be on the table for the 2017 Newbery.


message 22: by Ana (new)

Ana Marlatt | 73 comments I think Pax will be a strong contender for the 2017 Newberry as well. It is already a bestseller on the New York Times list!


message 23: by Ana (new)

Ana Marlatt | 73 comments I think Pax will be a strong contender for the 2017 Newberry as well. It is already a bestseller on the New York Times list!


message 24: by Ana (new)

Ana Marlatt | 73 comments I think Pax will be a strong contender for the 2017 Newberry as well. It is already a bestseller on the New York Times list!


message 25: by Mary HD (new)

Mary HD (marymaclan) | 96 comments PAX did not live up to its hype in my opinion. The book’s antiwar theme was paramount. Unfortunately, that single-mindedness resulted in a circumscribed plot and characters designed simply to score political points. Since the author has produced compelling characters and intriguing stories in past work (yes, I really liked The Summer of the Gypsy Moths!), I had expected something more.


message 26: by Darren (new)

Darren | 7 comments Unfortunately, I also was not overwhelmed by Pax. The characters all felt like people or animals that I'd encountered in other stories. Much of the writing was gorgeous and smart, but so many story elements just felt either manipulative or confusing. I wonder if I would have reacted differently without all of the hype? Right now, I'm loving Cammie McGovern's Just My Luck.


message 27: by Carol (new)

Carol M | 46 comments I had a chance to read this in galleys and I skipped it after reading the description--I do not like sad animal stories. I wanted to follow the discussion on this board so I decided to skim it. Only I got sucked into the writing. I was nervous every time there was a Pax chapter. The Peter chapters reminded me of "The Honest Truth". I am a sucker for survival stories. I was bothered by not being able to pinpoint the setting. I was not bothered by his just happening upon someone (Vola) who helped him---it was sort of magical realism.
I kind of hated the ending but it's because I like everything to be happy. It was an honest ending and I can appreciate that. I think I'm glad I read Pax but now I need something light spirited. (I'm also reading "Symphony for the City of the Dead"by Anderson which is definitely not light.


message 28: by Beverly (new)

Beverly (bevarcher) | 23 comments My thoughts: I love Sara Pennypacker. So, when I heard she had a new book coming out and that it was already receiving some critical acclaim, I was very excited. I quickly ordered a copy for both myself and the school library. I chose it as my spring break read in consideration for my 2016-2017 Mock Newbery Club. The timing for reading it also coincided with the Goodreads Mock Newbery reading of the book.


I'm sad to say that I was very disappointed with the book. The story builds very slowly. I'm afraid that it doesn't have the fast pace that would appeal to many of my students. Additionally, the characters were rather flat. Some of the reviewers have mentioned the anti-war message. I did notice that, but I didn't think it was quite as overt as some of them have suggested. That's a bit of a saving grace as I feel that such a message would be wasted on elementary students.

School Library Journal suggests this book for Grades 4-7 and Amazon suggests it for students as young as 3rd grade. I think it might appeal to the older students, perhaps middle school.

One of my current Book Detectives (4th & 5th Grade Mock Newbery Club) read it on her own. She's an avid reader and only rated it an "Okay." It saddens me to say this, but I'm afraid that I wasted some of my book budget on this book. I do hope that I'm wrong and that it turns out to be one of those books that appeals to my students but just doesn't quite fit my interests.


message 29: by Erin (last edited Mar 27, 2016 02:25PM) (new)

Erin (erinelyse) | 60 comments For me, this book was brilliant. I love the vague setting as it adds to the fable like quality of the story, and Pax's voice is spot on - distinct to his character and his "foxness." The story felt much like a Native American spirit quest which was beautifully realized in the end through Peter's character. Pacing is certainly slow, but kids who appreciate character driven stories and don't mind a tear or two will fall in love with Pax's tale of survival and change.


message 30: by Caren (new)

Caren (carenb) | 34 comments "Pax" is stunning.
Tender, thought provoking, and kind.
One of the best books I've ever read.


message 31: by Bev (new)

Bev | 7 comments Is there a book we will be reading and discussing for April? I'm ready for another good book. :)


message 32: by Mary (new)

Mary Linn (mlinn3) | 1 comments I would recommend The Key to Extraordinary by Natalie Lloyd - I'm only 4 chapters in and already I'm loving it!!


message 33: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Levy (teachreadrepeat) | 4 comments @Mary - YES! I loved The Key to Extraordinary! It was a fantastic read! Just finished Hour of the Bees, too. If you haven't read it yet, RUN to get a copy and start right away! Amazing story!


message 34: by Reving (new)

Reving | 106 comments I totally respect what everyone has to say about this book! I do! But for me...ugh...http://revingsblog.blogspot.com/2016/...


message 35: by Claire (new)

Claire | 5 comments I was not a fan. I grew tired of the anti-war message. I have to admit the unclear setting was a major distraction for me. The whole war setup just didn't make sense to me. I did like the way Pennypacker described Pax's inner thoughts, but I found Pax's chapters too depressing to really enjoy.


message 36: by kristen (new)

kristen | 3 comments I don't claim to have a critical eye when it comes to how well a book is written but I do have a long history of reading novels alongside kids. Pennypacker's Pax left me remembering the story for days after finishing. I agree that the anti-war message was heavy handed, maybe even tiresome, but the writing in this book was special, really outstanding to me. A stand out for sure.


message 37: by kristen (new)

kristen | 3 comments One final thought, I felt the ambiguous setting was intentional for the purpose of emphasizing the "destruction war causes everywhere/anywhere" theme. The fact that the reader couldn't pinpoint the exact time or place had a legendary feel for me.


message 38: by Lily (new)

Lily | 6 comments I didn't love it. Ever since I was a child myself I've had my emotional guard up around novels featuring animal characters (in particular, Stone Fox had an unpleasant, long lasting effect on me) and this one fit cleanly into that category for me. The perpetually dark, foreboding mood and descriptive scenes of violence made me dread a potentially very bad ending.

The ambiguous setting also was frustrating for me, but I don't know that kids will necessarily notice it or care as the story and its characters still work fine regardless of exact time and place.

What I did enjoy here was Pax himself. His chapters and his interactions with fellow foxes felt honest and real.


message 39: by Denise (new)

Denise Vetromile | 47 comments I started this book and then put it down for several weeks, the beginning was just too sad! That being said, I was ready to sit down and read it this weekend. I really appreciated the vague war setting (anytime, any place) and the anti-war message, particularly the "true cost of war." I have too many boys that are enamored of war and I can only hope that this book will give them a different perspective.

This is not the "best book" I have read for next year's Mock Newbery Book Club, but it will probably make the final list, if for no other reason than having the story told from such two different perspectives.


message 40: by Donna (new)

Donna Preece | 21 comments I read Pax and I loved it, but after reading some of the comments I decided to read it a second time. The comments about war made me feel I had missed something. The lack of a specific time and place did not bother me. I see this book as being timeless. It is something that could happen at any time, in any part of the country/or world for that matter. Young readers will think "War" like WWII, but what if we redefine "War" as any struggle involving two opposing forces in any social situation. There are any number of situations that create controversy within a society. Two opposing forces do not necessarily need to be involved in battles like WWII. Think about people in a situation where government wants to take their land for say construction of a dam or the Oak Ridge Project during WWII. Viola made me start thinking this way after she commented to Peter that ..".water was what the whole war was about." The men setting charges, laying wire by the water's edge. Don't these things happen when someone wants to change the flow of a river? I could go on, but I think I have made my point.

Character development was evident through the whole book, and there were multiple characters changing. The strong bond between Viola and Peter helped them both grow and come to terms with their personal situations. Peter's love of Pax helped him do the right thing in the end.

Pax and the foxes story was sad. I truly touched may heart. The human impact on the environment/animal habitat was very realistic. The animals felt the pain of having to move and loss of loved ones almost as if they were human.

I very much enjoyed reading Pax. It is early in the year, but I do see this as a Newbery contender.


message 41: by Phil (new)

Phil Jensen | 161 comments Lily wrote: "The ambiguous setting also was frustrating for me, but I don't know that kids will necessarily notice it or care as the story and its characters still work fine regardless of exact time and place."

The ambiguous setting came across to me as sloppy and annoying. I would prefer to see an author create a universal or legendary feel through careful creation of a realistic setting. The details of this one don't mesh well, and I'm left considering things like radioactive mutants in order to explain all the inconsistencies. My review has more thoughts on this: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 42: by Phil (new)

Phil Jensen | 161 comments Mary HD wrote: "PAX did not live up to its hype in my opinion. The book’s antiwar theme was paramount. Unfortunately, that single-mindedness resulted in a circumscribed plot and characters designed simply to score..."

Mary, you said it all for me again. I think this will be this year's Echo; a book that everyone else seems to love, but I find annoying and manipulative.


message 43: by Beth (new)

Beth | 9 comments Finally finished Pax. Like many others have said, it didn't live up to my expectations. I enjoyed the Pax chapters, but Peter was a little annoying and self-pitying for me. Here's my review for GoodReads:

So this book has been getting a lot of hype, and I was a little disappointed by it. The story is of a boy who is forced to abandoned his pet fox because war is imminent. Told in alternating chapters between the boy and the fox, readers know what is happening to both characters simultaneously and how their separation is affecting them. The back drop of war is completely ambiguous, as is the the location of the action and the era, and this didn't work for me. There are a few cultural references in the boy's chapters that felt incongurous to me, for example there is a mention of a Magic 8 Ball at the same time that there was mention of Punch & Judy. It felt as though these were being referred to in a current context rather than reminiscence. These various inconsistencies just left me annoyed and wondering. I was bored in the first half of the book and it made me wonder if young readers will lose interest.


message 44: by Virginia (new)

Virginia (virginiap) | 32 comments

I felt Pax was a beautifully written book with compelling and believable characters, and deep, abiding messages. Like others, the book is one I know will stay with me for a very long time. Also like some others, I had a knot in the pit of my stomach throughout the book as I worried about what would happen to Pax and to Peter. The strength of that emotion speaks to some of the strength of the writing, but it is also indicative of something else-- there were times when I didn't enjoy this book; in fact, I felt that it put me in a negative and depressed mood at times. That's not a criticism, but it's something to consider when sharing the book with children.

Things I loved most about this book were: *the chapters with Pax and the other foxes, and how believable they were; *Klassen's illustrations; *the redemptive nature of the relationship between Peter and Vola (I actually found this a true strength of the book, unlike some others who felt it slowed down the story); *the overall themes and messages. I feel like this one can be a true contender for a medal!




message 45: by Emma (new)

Emma (emmartorr) | 18 comments I agree with what others have said--beautifully written at the sentence level, but the story did not live up to the hype. I had the same experience as many others. Bothered by the repetitive anti-war/human message, bored by Peter's chapters, distracted by the ambiguous setting, enjoyed Pax's chapters. It could be a Newbery contender based on the fact that it is well-written and has an obvious theme, but the storyline just didn't seem very unique to me.


message 46: by Czechgirl (last edited May 07, 2016 01:29PM) (new)

Czechgirl | 214 comments I am reading Pax for a second time this month--to my students. I previously posted some positives, but yet some negatives. A matter of fact, I gave the book 4 stars. As I read the book for a second time, I'm thinking this book is the frontrunner. The writing is just so artfully and beautifully done. Also, because I know the ending, there are things I notice that Pennypacker purposely wrote into the book that connects with many other aspects of the book that I didn't notice before. My fav is now Pax. However, I can't wait until next weekend when I go buy Wolf Hollow--excited buy the praises for this book also.


message 47: by Virginia (new)

Virginia (virginiap) | 32 comments Czechgirl wrote: "I am reading Pax for a second time this month--to my students. I previously posted some positives, but yet some negatives. A matter of fact, I gave the book 4 stars. As I read the book for a second..."

I'm glad to get your opinion after sharing it with students. I plan to do this as part of the Global Read-Aloud with my students in October, and am interested to see how they take it, and how I'll feel about it after some time "away" from it.


message 48: by Czechgirl (new)

Czechgirl | 214 comments Virginia wrote: "Czechgirl wrote: "I am reading Pax for a second time this month--to my students. I previously posted some positives, but yet some negatives. A matter of fact, I gave the book 4 stars. As I read the..."

I am doing Pax for the Global Read Aloud this year. My twitter handle is @Czechgirl68 What is your twitter handle so that we can keep in touch?


message 49: by Amy (new)

Amy | 17 comments Pax was not for me. I found the book incredibly depressing, and I felt like the ending just dropped some of the smaller stories throughout the book. I did love the alternating point of view, I also loved the relationship with the boy and the woman, and I agree that the effect of human destruction was portrayed in an unforgetable manner.


message 50: by Brenda (new)

Brenda | 54 comments After reading comments about the setting, I agree she did a great job of leaving the time period and place ambiguous as this story could happen anywhere. The ending was hard for me to deal with and left me crying for sometime. I do think it was a parallel to the relationship between Peter and the woman. It seemed she did not want him to leave but had to allow it because that is what he needed and wanted. Both relationships changed the characters in a positive way and maybe that is the message. Relationships


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