Reading Level: Grades 4-8; Lexile Level 640; ATOS Reading Level 4.4
Interest Level: I would say the interest level for this book would be fairly on target with the reading level. It is a little dark, so I would say some of the interest level with depend on the maturity level of the individual.
Summary: Two young foxes, lost from their litters, set off an adventure to find home and discover monsters of all types along the way. This tale is told through eight connected and thought provoking stories.
Justification: One reason for choosing this book to evaluate is that, Scary Stories for Young Foxes was named a 2020 Newbery Honor recipient. This title is also on the voting list for the 2021-2022 Texas Bluebonnet Award, which will be voted for in January 2022. Lastly, in 2020 this book made the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) Notable Children’s Book list for middle readers (grades 3-5, ages 8-10).
I enjoyed listening to this book, although I do think it is one that needs to be read rather than listened to just so that it is easier to keep up with the characters. Heidicker did a wonderful job producing a suspenseful mood around each of the individual stories. There were a few times that I thought the book got a little dark, but without those elements the story would have fallen flat. A downside to listening to the audio, instead of reading the print version, is that you do not see the black and white illustrations that depict some of the bleak situations the foxes find themselves in.
In my opinion, the pacing of this book was the perfect tempo. The story seemed like it was zipping along, but more like a thrill ride than a rushed event. I thought the imagery throughout the book was excellent. Words were written, well I guess spoken, in such a way I forgot I was listening to a book and not a movie or show. The amount of small details pointed out, like smells and sights, did not overwhelm the listener, but instead created a scene for them to get lost in. Heidicker did not shy away from too many of the more intense (and sometimes gory details), but these were not done in a way that would terrify most individuals. That being said, there was definitely violence in this book among the foxes. This includes death, imprisonment, domestic abuse, and a twisted version of taxidermy.
A big theme throughout the story is bullying and perseverance. This can be seen through the character development of Uli from a meek and timid kit to a strong, outgoing hunter. Also, I did not see the slight twist at the end coming! The way Heidicker managed to tie all the stories up caught me a little off guard, and now has me impatiently waiting for the second book. This book captured my attention with the title, and kept it with the adrenaline rush well written survival stories give.
Heidicker, C.M. (2020). Scary stories for young foxes [Audiobook]. Recorded Books, Inc. Retrieved from https://houstonlibrary.overdrive.com/media/5645885