Max Murphy, beaten up by the class bully and forced by his father to use his toy dog for target practice, is supposed to be suffering from a shortage of Bravery. However, right from the start he shows more guts than we would have in his place--trading the gun he inherited from his grandfather for a flute while Dad is away and then trying to save a silver fox that he finds caught in a neighbor's trap (he quiets the man's vicious dog by throwing a blanket over him and risks ridicule by taking up a collection in school to pay for the fox). And when the plan to purchase the fox live fails, Max trades back the flute (which has turned out to be pure platinum) and uses the gun to put the fox out of his misery. With all the complex action and a quick change of heart on Dad's part, the question of how Max will explain the ruined pelt to the trapper is left open. Yet Max teeters believably on the fine line between courage and desperation, and animal lovers will find justification for the rather mechanical plot.