Book Review: Stone Fox

Stone Fox

by James Reynolds Gardiner

Illustrated by Greg Hargreaves


96 pages.

Genre: Childrens, Historical Fiction

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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Little Willy has a big job to do. When his grandfather falls ill, it is up to Willy alone to save their farm from the tax collector. But where can a ten-year-old get five hundred dollars in a hurry? Then Willy sees the poster for the National Dogsled Race.

The race pits Willy against the best dog teams in the country, including the Indian Stone Fox and his five beautiful Samoyeds, who have never lost a race. And Stone Fox wants the prize money as badly as Willy does. Willy’s dog, Searchlight, is every bit as fast as the competition, and Willy knows the terrain better than anyone. But can one boy and one dog be a match for the unbeatable Stone Fox?

First Sentences:

One day grandfather wouldn’t get out of bed.

My Thoughts:

My daughter read this with her 3rd grade class last year and it became her favorite book for a time.  Knowing how much I love to read and do write book reviews, she insisted that I add Stone Fox to my list of books to read.

The first sentence gets straight to the point.  One day grandfather wouldn’t get out of bed.  Thus begins the story of why a little potato farm boy that goes by Little Willy sets and his loyal dog Searchlight decide to compete in the great sled race.

Grandfather has lost the will to live because he can’t afford to pay his taxes after letting them go unpaid for 10 years… not sure how he thought those pesky tazes were just going to go away if he ignored them.  No longer willing to face the fact that he is about to lose his farm, he becomes bedridden from heartbreak and leaves his 10 year old grandson to take care of the hime nad farm all by himself.  The kid manages to harvest an entire field of potatoes by himself!  Thanks for the help, Gramps!

Poor Little Willy doesn’t know what to do to save his grandpa and the farm, until he sees a poseter for the dog sled race.  He spends his college savings on an entry fee, believeing that he and his dof alone can win the race against the more experienced adults with professional dog teams.  But then Stone Fox, a Native American with a pair of unbeatable sled dogs, enters the race and things seem bleak for Little Willy’s chance of winning the prize money he so desperatley needs to save his home.

The story is heartbreaking, not just because of the situation at hand from the very begining of the book, but the way it ends is enough to make even adults cry!  Despite how heartbreaking it is however, I full heartedly believe that this sort of sad stories are good for children to read.  Why?  One word: Empathy.  This story is a great way to teach children empathy, and I am so happy that my daughter recommended it to me!

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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