Friday, January 14, 2011

Book Review - Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl
Published by: Puffin USA
Publication Date: 1970
Format: Paperback, 90 Pages
Rating: ★★
To Buy(different edition than one reviewed)

Mr. Fox and his family have quite a set up, they live next to three repulsive farmers, Farmer Boggis, Farmer Bunce and Farmer Bean. They respectively raise chickens, ducks and geese and turkeys and apples. The fox family eats well every night and Mr. Fox is a great provider, hence the "fantastic" handle. Finally the farmers collectively snap and instead of waiting for the nightly attack, they take the battle to Mr. Fox. Waiting outside his warren they get a partial victory by shooting off Mr. Fox's tail. Knowing that Mr. Fox wouldn't dare show his face again they decide to dig him out. What ensues is man and machine against little ground dwelling animals as the fox family tries to out dig the farmers, first with their shovels and spades, and then with their modern machines. The foxes realize this could be it, but then Mr. Fox decides it's time to take what they want direct from the source. They tunnel to the stores of all three farmers and they eat well. But not only does Mr. Fox save his family, but all ground dwelling animals whose lives became endangered when Mr. Fox riled up the farmers. They can live safe and happy while the ignorant farmers suffer waiting for the animals to starve.

So, I was shocked to realize, I've never read this book. I've had it in my Roald Dahl section for as long as I can remember, but I've never read it. Well... it's now been read and I have to say this, Roald Dahl is, to me, a very hit or miss writer. You either loved it or couldn't care about it. There's my adoration of Matilda and my dislike of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This falls into the later category of couldn't really care. I read it in anticipation of watching the new Wes Anderson stop motion animation movie so that I wouldn't go in ignorant... yes, I'm the girl who can't just see a movie but has to read the book as well. But the thing I couldn't get over was that no one was likable in this story. I hated the farmers, but I also couldn't care about the foxes. Plus, the humanization of the animals I found odd. It's not like foxes actually cook the chickens they steal... plus all the animals underground seemed to eat other animals, only the rabbits being vegetarian, and I found this odd. Plus, is it just me, or wouldn't it have been easier to drown them by pumping water into the holes? Thankfully Wes Anderson righted this wrong. Not that I approve of it, it just would have made a short story even shorter. It's amazing how Wes was able to create such a fun and delightful story. There is so little source material they could go anywhere with it... plus George Clooney as a fox, of course it's awesome!


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