Pax by Sara Pennypacker
Goodreads Summary: Pax was only a kit when his family was killed, and “his boy” Peter rescued him from abandonment and certain death. Now the war front approaches, and when Peter’s father enlists, Peter has to move in with his grandpa. Far worse than being forced to leave home is the fact that Pax can’t go. Peter listens to his stern father—as he usually does—and throws Pax’s favorite toy soldier into the woods. When the fox runs to retrieve it, Peter and his dad get back in the car and leave him there—alone. But before Peter makes it through even one night under his grandfather’s roof, regret and duty spur him to action; he packs for a trek to get his best friend back and sneaks into the night. This is the story of Peter, Pax, and their independent struggles to return to one another against all odds. Told from the alternating viewpoints of Peter and Pax.
My thoughts: I love Sara Pennypacker. So, when I heard she had a new book coming out and that it was already receiving some critical acclaim, I was very excited. I quickly ordered a copy for both myself and the school library. I chose it as my spring break read in consideration for my 2016-2017 Mock Newbery Club. The timing for reading it also coincided with the Goodreads Mock Newbery reading of the book.
I’m sad to say that I was very disappointed with the book. The story builds very slowly. I’m afraid that it doesn’t have the fast pace that would appeal to many of my students. Additionally, the characters were rather flat. Some of the reviewers have mentioned the anti-war message. I did notice that, but I didn’t think it was quite as overt as some of them have suggested. That’s a bit of a saving grace as I feel that such a message would be wasted on elementary students.
School Library Journal suggests this book for Grades 4-7 and Amazon suggests it for students as young as 3rd grade. I think it might appeal to the older students, perhaps middle school.
One of my current Book Detectives (4th & 5th Grade Mock Newbery Club) read it on her own. She’s an avid reader and only rated it an “Okay.” It saddens me to say this, but I’m afraid that I wasted some of my book budget on this book. I do hope that I’m wrong and that it turns out to be one of those books that appeals to my students but just doesn’t quite fit my interests.