Tiny Fox and Great Boar 1: There by Berenika Kolomycka

This is what you would expect from a children’s illustrated book: a solid but easy to follow story, engaging characters, lots of questions for children to think about, and beautiful illustrations. The story comes in several parts and they all tie in together with the adventures of the fox and the boar and their friendship. The moral of the story comes in the first page with two simple two sentences: “Tiny Fox was always alone, though he never felt sad. Like most small animals, he’d always though that he was happy.” This is a story about learning to respect/care for others in all their unique ways.

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Story: Little Fox lives happily under an apple tree until one day a boar comes and also sits under the same tree. Little Fox views the boar as an interloper and the two compete for the resources of the apple tree until eventually they form a truce. But when Winter comes and food gets scarce, the two decide to set off together to fill their stomachs. But with each having a very different mind on where to go, it will take compromise and respecting each other to find a new home.

The heart of the story is understanding others and how having different opinions doesn’t make you wrong – it just makes you different. Most of the story is about sharing and respecting – not being selfish and learning to enjoy the company of others. It feels like a story that is especially good for families with a new child along the way or who are moving to a new location. The book shows nicely how a situation may seem ideal but it might also be very lonely as well. It also shows that friendship is a two-way street.

The perspective is only from the fox’s POV so the boar is much less developed. I think this is good in that we often have to learn to respect others without knowing their true thoughts. But it is also a bit frustrating in that it would be nice to show that what we think someone is feeling may not actually be the case. We never really get boar’s thoughts to understand his POV as well.

The illustrations are lovely – clean and simple watercolors that work nicely with the story. The fox and boar are emotive and the action easy to follow. The dialogue is few – allowing for great discussions with children about what the fox or the boar could be thinking during the interactions – from rolling down a hill to each having an apple fall on their head.

In all, a lovely story with only a few small detractions. One was the occasional odd word choice (perhaps due to translation?) such as the fox saying “This is his apple tree. And this here valley is his home.” And the animals going from walking like animals to full anthropomorphic jumping in and rowing a boat. But in all, recommended. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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