Goodnight Moon meets “The Three Bears” in this tale of a robber fox.
Sporting a blue turtleneck, this bushy-tailed thief approaches an elegant home with columns and a mansard roof (a Georgian town house, according to the illustrator’s dedication). The fox greets objects and creatures by name: “Hello, door. Hello, house. / Hello, mat. Hello, mouse.” Once inside, the intruder enjoys a snack, swings through the parlor on the chandelier, and leaves a trail of broken china and debris. What isn’t nailed down goes into an increasingly bulging satchel—porcelain, silver, jewelry, and paintings, cut from their frames. The palette is predominantly turquoise with burnt orange and red accents; the feel of the mischief is reminiscent of Warner Bros. cartoons. Just as the fox is about to make a getaway, the three bear homeowners return, and a confusing chase ensues, the characters appearing as orange silhouettes running through a cross-section of the house. Mother Bear finally tosses the culprit out the window. The fox lands, empty-handed but gleeful, eyeing an even more palatial setting replete with fountains and formal gardens. This plot and conclusion produce discomfort. In “The Three Bears,” while Goldilocks does enter a home not her own, she is more naughty child than thief. When found, she is frightened enough never to be seen repeating the offense.
What are young listeners to feel upon finishing this story? Unsatisfied—and maybe even insecure. (Picture book. 3-5)