Poetry Friday: Fantastic Mr. Fox's Song
November 30, 2007
'Home again swiftly I glide,
Back to my beautiful bride.
She'll not feel so rotten
As soon as she's gotten
Some cider inside her inside.'
That's the first verse of a jaunty little song in Fantastic Mr. Fox, a classic by Roald Dahl. When he sings the song, Mr. Fox and his friend Badger have just secured a big feast's final ingredient, some fermented cider from a farmer's secret cellar.
Badger's first taste of the cider cracked me up.
'It's my turn,' said Badger, taking the jar and tilting his head well back. The cider gurgled and bubbled down his throat. 'It's ... it's like melted gold!' he gasped. 'Oh, Foxy, it's ... like drinking sunbeams and rainbows!'
The whole book is like that, one delightfully funny scene after another as Fox and his friends outwit their vengeful human neighbors. "I'm on the foxes' side. Are you?" Junior asked me as I read the novel aloud this week. Yes, absolutely.
Featuring many amusing line drawings by Tony Ross (in our edition; Quentin Blake, et al., did others), Fantastic Mr. Fox is a great choice for kids eight and older. Readers who like short, exciting chapter books will be thrilled.
Two Writing Teachers have the Poetry Friday roundup on the table today. Enjoy it with your own glass of sunbeams and rainbows.
Love Junior's comment. Only Dahl could get away with a hard cider story, though.
Posted by: Sara | November 30, 2007 at 03:06 PM
I used Fantastic Mr. Fox in a book group for third-fifth graders once, and the kids wound up stumbling on the idea that the fox is a thief and the farmers have a point. In the end, we decided we sided with the fox even so, but it was fascinating to hear what the kids had to say about the whole thing.
Posted by: adrienne | November 30, 2007 at 03:07 PM
Sara and Adrienne, old Roald is pretty subversive, isn't he?
Posted by: Susan T. | November 30, 2007 at 05:31 PM
Yes, and whenever I run across kids who read Dahl, I know I can talk to them about any number of other things. They're kindred spirits and usually readers. I enjoy talking with non-readers in the library, too, but it's always nice when I get to connect with some of the kids who are serious readers. (That said, I'm afraid nothing amuses me quite so much as the teenagers who come in to the library looking for a thin book because they hate to read. I think it's the honesty that gets me, and I like to be a person who doesn't give them a hard time about it, since, obviously, badgering them won't help.)
Posted by: adrienne | November 30, 2007 at 10:10 PM
Pun intended with the badgering, Adrienne? :)
I love Dahl and his unapologetic shock.
Posted by: Liz in Ink | December 01, 2007 at 12:39 AM
I suppose you have to take an "expect the unexpected" with Dahl. I was reading Revolting Rhymes aloud and had to skip right over the word sl_t (rhymes with mutt). Jr. will hear it soon enough, and I didn't want him announcing an exciting new vocabulary word on the school bus.
Interesting about the Dahl connection with the kids in the library, Adrienne. The subversive factor in Mr. Fox reminded me a little bit of James Marshall. JM doesn't take it as far as Dahl but it's still there.
We'd recently read another "talking animal" early chapter book--Poppy--which was so different and more earnest. Lovely in its way, and it did have light touches of humor. But now comparing it to Mr. Fox, some of Poppy's humor seems more forced.
I'd only read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory before this. I'm thinking maybe The Witches is next.
Posted by: Susan T. | December 01, 2007 at 08:51 AM
Thanks for the wonderful poem. That's one of the books I've always meant to read... your post is inspiring me to give it a shot.
I also wanted to tell you how much I've been enjoying your blog... and I've tagged you for a meme.
Posted by: Wizards Wireless | December 01, 2007 at 03:44 PM
Hi, Susan. Thanks for dropping by and for the nice words!
Adapting the meme a little bit, I'll name seven Dahl books that I hope to read in the next year or so:
1. The Witches
2. Charlie and the Choclate Factory
3. The Minpins
4. James and the Giant Peach
6. Going Solo
7. Danny the Champion of the World
Posted by: Susan T. | December 02, 2007 at 06:48 PM
Thanks for doing the meme, Susan! I love your answer.
Posted by: Wizards Wireless | December 02, 2007 at 10:53 PM
Thank you for this post. I ran out to the library and checked out Fantastic Mr. Fox so I could it read it myself--I mean, to my seven-year-old. We both loved it, and it prompted some interesting discussion at the dinner table , too (re: when it's okay to steal, mostly. I think Leo thought the cider just had a lot of sugar in it!). Thanks again!
Posted by: Anamaria | December 04, 2007 at 06:07 PM
Oh, I'm so glad to hear y'all liked it, too. I marveled at how tightly written it was--and how we just couldn't put it down.
Junior didn't catch onto the exact quality of the cider, either.
Posted by: Susan T. | December 04, 2007 at 10:27 PM