Fantastic Miss Fox


Watership Down was all very well but now it's the foxes' turn. Inbali Iserles's Foxcraft: The Taken (Scholastic, £5.99) follows Isla the cub as she tries to rejoin her family. Although Isla is, in some ways, almost too realistic a fox, her paws messy with chewed-up leftovers of a "rich, peppery" mouse-dinner, she also learns mystical foxcraft skills. Expert at karakking (imitating other animals' calls), her survival may depend on slimmering (moving invisibly) or wa'akkir (shape-shifting). Meanwhile, she is at risk from fiercer animals - including the four-wheeled kind that rush along the deathway. Age seven to 12.

In John Boyne's The Boy at the Top of the Mountain (Penguin, £12.99), Pierrot and Anshul are childhood friends but, when Pierrot's parents die, Anshul's family don't take him in. A Jewish family doesn't seem like the best adoptive option in mid-1930s Paris. So Pierrot is sent to his aunt, a servant in a grand Austrian house owned by an irascible, moustachioed vegetarian. A painful portrait of a boy's moral disintegration, with a neat writer's trick at the end. Age 12 up.

In the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, Estrella and Yosef marry and move from their village to the big city, where it seems that each has installed an additional spouse in their new home. Can the rabbi solve the puzzle and save their relationship? The Mountain Jews and the Mirror by Ruchama King Feuerman (Kar-Ben, £5.99) is an extended picture book, for age five to seven. Soft-textured illustrations by Polona Kosec and Marcela Calderon capture the Casablancan community - richly coloured robes and bristly rabbinical beards.

Grandma is the focus of Sadie and Ori and the Blue Blanket by Jamie Korngold (Kar-Ben, £5.99). When Sadie is born, Grandma knits the coverlet and, as Sadie grows and is joined by brother Ori, the blanket takes on new uses, which subtly parallel grandma's changing role. Julie Fortenberry's illustrations show the family enjoying the cycle of seasons - building a snowman, making a Seder - while Grandma transitions from sprightly cyclist to sofa-snoozer. Age three to six.

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