In this debut children’s book, a group of animals lives peacefully in the woods—until a fox shows up and takes over the badger’s house.
“Deep in the woods there are hidden paths known only to the forest dwellers” begins this story set in a world of friendly, fuzzy creatures. The forest dwellers are a wild cat and her kittens, a badger, bear, a doe and her fawns and a bat and a tiny lizard. Together they live in harmony, as each has its own home in the forest, but that tranquility is shattered when Scratchfoot, the badger, returns home from foraging to find that a fox has moved into his burrow. The fox refuses to move, and the rest of the animals try to help Scratchfoot remove the intruder—they make awful noises to try to scare him out and otherwise work together as a team to help their friend. The plot resolves with a lesson about friendship and sharing, although it’s rather quickly wrapped up in a few sentences on the last page. The book itself is the result of teamwork: A grandmother wrote the story, a mother made the colorful animal cutouts, and a 2-and-a-half-year-old child contributed the looping background scribbles. The result is a homegrown approach to illustration, and the resulting abstract, colorful images work well, given the story’s simplicity. Hovaguimian uses a large but not overly complex vocabulary—with words such as “dislodge,” “circumstances” and “foraging”—that helps to make the book a good one for adults to read to children before bed.
A sweet story about teamwork and friendship.