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Christopher Fox

By Florence Biros
Sonrise Publications, Inc.

51 Greenfield Road
New Wilmington, PA 16142

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 Christopher.

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 perspective.

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

Product review by Tony Silva, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, September 2010

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