A lonely, peaceful fox would like to make friends with the chickens and rabbits, but they have sense enough to be wary. A wise old owl tells the fox about a distant land where ""the lion lies down with the lamb."" Eventually, the fox succeeds in making friends with some of the younger chickens, who are playing a game of ""Chicken Whispers."" The rabbits join in; then plan an escape together to the faraway land where all animals are friends. The next winter, after they set out, the farmer assumes that the fox has eaten the chickens; only the owl knows better. Though the message here would seem to be pro peace, the action is so unlike real animal--or human--behavior that its import is hopelessly muddled. On the other hand, Gooding's illustrations in Caran D'Ache crayon and watercolor are soft, bright, and attractive; the animals are carefully observed, arranged with choreographic grace against an idyllic English landscape--a reminder that Gooding is also responsible for some pleasant illustrations for The Wind in the Willows.