PAX

Sara Pennypacker & Jon Klassen (Illustrator)

Pax was only a kit when his family was killed, rescued by “his boy,” Peter, from abandonment and certain death. Now the war front

approaches, and when Peter’s father enlists, Peter has to move in with his grandfather. Far worse than being forced to leave home is the fact that Pax can’t go. Peter obeys his stern father and agrees to release Pax back into the wild. But before Peter makes it through even one night under his grandfather’s roof, regret and duty spur him to action; he sneaks out into the night, determined to find his beloved friend.

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Pax was only a kit when his family was killed, rescued by “his boy,” Peter, from abandonment and certain death. Now the war front

approaches, and when Peter’s father enlists, Peter has to move in with his grandfather. Far worse than being forced to leave home is the fact that Pax can’t go. Peter obeys his stern father and agrees to release Pax back into the wild. But before Peter makes it through even one night under his grandfather’s roof, regret and duty spur him to action; he sneaks out into the night, determined to find his beloved friend. This is the story of Peter, Pax, and their independent struggles to return to each other in the face of war.

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  • Balzer + Bray
  • Hardcover
  • February 2016
  • 288 Pages
  • 9780062377012

Buy the Book

$16.99

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About Sara Pennypacker & Jon Klassen (Illustrator)

Sara Pennypacker is the author of the award- winning, New York Times bestselling Clementine series, the novel Summer of the Gypsy Moths, and the picture books Meet the Dullards, Pierre in Love, and Sparrow Girl. She divides her time between Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and Florida.

Jon Klassen grew up in Niagara Falls, Canada, and now lives in Los Angeles, California. He is the Caldecott Award-winning author and illustrator of I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat, as well as the illustrator of Sam and Dave Dig a Hole and Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett; The Dark by Lemony Snicket; House Held Up by Trees by Ted Kooser; Cats’ Night Out by Caroline Stutson; and the first three books in the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series.

Praise

Moving and poetic.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Pennypacker’s expert, evenhanded storytelling reveals stunning depth in a relatively small package.” Booklist (starred review)

In an exceptionally powerful, if grim story, Pennypacker does a remarkable job of conveying the gritty perspective of a sheltered animal that must instantly learn to live in the wild.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)

A startling work of fiction that should be read-and discussed-by children and adults alike.”School Library Journal (starred review)

Discussion Questions

Discuss the connection between Peter and Pax. How has that connection developed over the years? Why must Peter release Pax? What makes Peter leave to look for Pax after he arrives at his grandfather’s home?

What is the importance of the toy soldier in the game Peter plays with Pax? Why is Peter surprised to find a box of toy soldiers at his grandfather’s house? What is the impact on Peter when he sees the picture of his father as a boy with his arm around a dog? Why do you think Peter’s father never talked about his dog?

Why is it so important to Vola to live alone? What does she mean when she says, “The plain truth can be the hardest thing to see when it’s about yourself” (p. 189)? How does that phrase pertain to Vola? How does it pertain to Peter and to Peter’s father?

Vola tells Peter, “People should tell the truth about what war costs” (p. 130). What costs of war does each of the characters in this book pay? Describe both the physical and emotional costs that these characters experience.

Discuss the concept of “nonduality,” or “two but not two,” that Vola explains to Peter (p. 186). How does this concept help Peter understand his connection to Pax? What does it mean to Vola?

Describe the steps in Peter’s journey that help him to understand that, when he finally finds Pax, he must let him go. Describe the steps in Pax’s journey that lead him to stay with his new family in the wild.

Discuss the meaning of the phrase that appears before the story begins: “Just because it isn’t happening here doesn’t mean it isn’t happening” (p. 10). What does that phrase mean to you? Why do you think the author did not name a specific place or area as the setting of the book?

What does Vola mean when she asks Peter if he is “wild or tame” (p. 105)? What do those words mean to you? Why is it hard for the wild foxes to accept Pax when he finds them? Apply the concept of wild or tame to each of the main characters in the story to help explain their personalities.

Discuss the meaning of the final words in the book: “Sometimes the apple rolls very far from the tree” (p. 277). Why do these words appear as handwritten text? What do these words mean for Peter?

Why do you think the author decided to tell the story from dual points of view with alternating chapters describing of the separate adventures of Peter and Pax? How does this structure help the story move forward and enhance your understanding of the plot?

What do you think Peter and Pax do in the moments after the story ends and in the weeks that follow? What clues in the book support your guesses?

Compare the experience of reading Pax to listening to the audio edition of the book. How is the experience of the story different when you hear the voices rather than see the words on the page? How do the illustrations in the book help you to visualize the story?

Throughout the centuries and in many cultures, people have told stories, tales, and fables about foxes. What stories can you remember or can you find that have a fox as a main character? How would you compare some of these fictional characters to Pax and the other foxes in this novel?

Read the story of Sinbad in a volume of the Arabian Nights stories. Compare the experiences of Sinbad to what you have learned about Vola in this book. Why do you think the story and the puppets she creates have become so important to Vola? What does the story and working with the puppets mean to Peter?