We discovered the benefits of historical fiction years ago when
my wife and I read a series of historical novels about the Civil
War. Since then, we've enjoyed both books and movies set in various
periods of history--from the Revolutionary War to Vietnam. Those
books and movies made history real for us. In the same way, author
Florence Biros makes history of the Civil War real for children
in her latest book, Christopher Fox.
Christopher Fox, which sells for $9.95, is a story of
a Confederate general whose best friend and regimental mascot during
the Civil War is not a dog . . . but a fox. Written by the author
of the popular novel Dog Jack, this book opens with plantation
owner Clayton Crawford's children discovering an orphaned baby
fox whose mother was killed on the farm moments before. The children
adopt the fox, but he becomes Crawford's best friend as the nation
heads toward civil war. The fox, having become a pet, is now named
The story chronicles Crawford's battlefield experiences as he
confronts challenging moral issues, finding comfort and companionship
in his friend Christopher Fox. Unlike the story of Dog Jack, there
is little historical information about the characters to go by
beyond mention of a Confederate general who came to Gettysburg
with a fox as his company's regimental mascot. That did not prevent
Biros from taking a gem and polishing it with historical places
and events to give a picture of the Civil War from a Confederate
As the story opens, we meet Mandy and Mose, two slaves of the
Crawford household. They are depicted as content with their lot,
loving their master and his family--particularly the children.
It is Mose who kills the mother fox when he finds her invading
the hen house. While it appears the author is painting an inaccurate
picture of slavery in these early chapters, it is not a good idea
to draw too much from this. Slavery--and the cruelty of humans
toward one another it represents--is among the moral issues Crawford
has to take on in his adventures.
Christopher Fox is fast paced and fun to read. Although
there are ample descriptions of Civil War battles throughout the
story, they are done in a way that will not leave youngsters with
nightmares. This unique quality for a novel steeped in a wartime
setting makes it ideal as a read-aloud book for kids of all ages.
Clay Crawford's resolve in meeting challenging moral issues with
Scripture is an inspiring study in character.
Although this is essentially a children's novel in an historical
setting, Christopher Fox can be an engaging way to get
into discussions about the moral issues that come up in the plot.
It is also another way to bring Civil War events to life for those
who find history to be stuffy and boring.
In addition to Biros's books, plush toys of both Dog Jack and
Christopher Fox are available on the publisher's website at www.sonrisepublications.com.