Giff’s Fiercely and Friends early-reader series limps along with this not-so-suspenseful tale.
The trio of Jilli, Jim and dog Fiercely who spied on a neighbor and her Big Red Schoolhouse, return for another semimysterious adventure. During a terrific snowstorm, Jilli has to take a break from reading to Fiercely about a sneaky snow fox—the story is just too scary. Jumping at every sound and seeing a snow fox around every corner, she is terrified by a knock on the door. It turns out to be just her friend, Jim. But while the door is open, the dog runs outside. The duo watch from an upstairs window as Fiercely tunnels his way toward a suspiciously foxy-looking tail in the snow. Is he brave or does he need help? The friends share Jim’s pair of skis and rush to the rescue. The ending will satisfy beginning readers with its coziness and lack of fright, though the buildup is overlong and repetitious. The four chapter divisions seem arbitrary, and the text suffers from the same exposition problems as the first title in the series (The Big Something, 2012), telling all the action rather than showing. Palmisciano’s oil pastels nicely convey the children’s emotions, though the ambiguity that "conceals" the identity of the snow fox may leave readers frustrated rather than amused.
Not likely to sneak past the early-reader set. (Early reader. 5-8)