Pax by Sara Pennypacker
If it's a nonsensical The Cat in the Hat or or a charming imaginary friend such as Winnie-the-Pooh I'm there. But realistic animals who talk? Nah!
I resisted reading Sara Pennypacker's Pax for this reason. But Jon Klassen's cover art kept calling to me and wouldn't let go. Seriously. Look at that cover.
So glad that I did. Once I got over my initial reservations about a story told from alternating points of view: the boy Peter and the fox Pax, I was completely sucked into their respective worlds. The story tension kept me entranced as it built to the inevitable conclusion.
The book started me thinking a lot about what it means to be "wild" as opposed to "tame". Several classic works address this conundrum and sent me off on a brief literary journey, searching for the wild.
I love books that take me to other books, searching for new connections. Those are the best kind of books: doorways to the world of ideas.
"I am looking for friends. What does that mean -- tame?"
"It is an act too often neglected," said the fox. "It means to establish ties."
"To establish ties?"
"Just that," said the fox. "To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world....
“Deep in the forest a call was sounding, and as often as he heard this call, mysteriously thrilling and luring, he felt compelled to turn his back upon the fire and the beaten earth around it, and to plunge into the forest, and on and on, he knew not where or why; nor did he wonder where or why, the call sounding imperiously, deep in the forest.”
“He was sounding the deeps of his nature, and of the parts of his nature that were deeper than he, going back into the womb of Time.”
" 'Just wondering,' she said. 'You staying out here on the porch. What do you suppose that makes you? Wild or tame.' "
"Do you think...Do you think if someone had a wild part, it could ever be tamed out? If it's in his nature? Inherited?"
"We all own a beast called anger. It can serve you: many good things come of anger at bad things; many unjust things are made just. But first we have to figure out how to civilize it."