Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox
Roald Dahl ~ illustrations by Donald Chaffin
(later reillustrated by Quentin Blake)
Knopf, 1970

So much excitement with the Where the Wild Things Are and Fantastic Mr. Fox movies right around the corner. Seriously, I can't get enough... whether it be Wes Anderson's directing controversy or the discussion on whether or not Dave Eggers ruined a Spike Jonze masterpiece with his angst ridden writing. Really, you could cut the anticipation with a knife around here. Will be taking my four-year-old son to both no matter what the mommy-critics say. But hey, I'm the mother who played Edgar Allen Poe spoken word for her son today and then found herself having to explain why PERSON A killing PERSON B and hiding him under the floor doesn't constitute as "the circle of life." But I digress...

Since I've reviewed the first book, I figured it was about time I got around to the other. Not hard really, since my son (not to mention his parents) is currently obsessed with all things Dahl. At nights, Dahl's books are basically all we read, and I know you've heard me gush enough on the subject, but if your child is interesting and interested at all, you owe it to them to introduce Dahl to their imagination. Seriously, at this point in my career as a professional reader to an audience of one, if someone came down and said I could only read one author to my son for the rest of his adolescence... Dahl would give Mr. Sendak a run for his money. Big time. Well, then... though we love the Quentin Blake illustrated version at our house, I figured I'd highlight the original if for no other reason than its enticing jacket copy.


An enormously fat man, a chicken farmer...
and a mean man.

A pot-bellied dwarf, a duck-and-goose farmer...
and a nasty man.

A thin man, a turkey-and-apple farmer...
and a beastly man.

The most respectable
and well-behaved animal in the district.

A rude creature and drunkard.

A fine family.


Our hero, a fantastic fellow.

If you're three years old or more you'll love this extraordinary adventure story, Fantastic Mr. Fox.

And that's it in a nutshell folks. These three bad farmers get a hankering to kill poor Mr. Fox and his kin and devise a plan that has fox and his friends digging for their lives. That is until they dig to a wonderfully magical place that basically solves all their problems forever. Like the jacket says, there is adventure, but more than that... there is family love, furry animals and loads and loads of food. To see where Wes Anderson got his childhood inspiration you really need to check out Donald Chaffin's original illustrations. Much more refined and Andersonesque than Blake's, but having both in our collection just sweetens the pot. Even though I am a Blake loyalist, I will not pick a favorite, and rather, say this. No matter who the illustrator is, the story rings so loud and clear and awesome, all you can do is smile.

In the words of the immortal Mrs. Fox:


Read it and find out just how fantastic for yourself.Also by:
Dirty Beasts
The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me


Victoria Stitch said...

wow I really love these! Kind of wish this edition was still in print!

*L* said...

Fantastic Mr. Fox was one of my very favorite books as a child...add me to those extremely excited for the movie! I had forgotten how lovely the illustrations were in older version.

Jennifer said...

While I love Quentin Blake, this will always be the "real" Fantastic Mr. Fox to me, as will Nancy Burkert's illustrations for James and the Giant Peach. Depends what you grew up with I guess.

Antmusic said...

My copy of Fantasic Mr. Fox isn't illustrated by Quentin Blake OR Donald Chaffin! It is illustrated by Tony Ross (who also did a version of The Magic Finger)!

Maureen said...

When I was a kid I was more of an Enid Blyton fan than a Roald Dahl fan, but Fantastic Mr Fox was a book I treasured. My Fox book is long gone and I don't recall the illustralion very cleary but your version is absolutely gorgeous.
I can't wait to see it on the big screen.
Maureen Hume.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for another great post. Dahl is simply the best!!! I loved all his books, and I think Fantastic Mr. Fox is probably my favourite. Danny the Champion of the World would also be right up there. He was such a talent - and I always enjoy re-reading them.


Kevin Kidney said...

I love this too, and can't wait to see the movie, for so many reasons. (Hooray for good-old stop-motion animation!)

I am enjoying your blog so much, and adding a link to you from mine. Cheers!

Kristin said...

My son listened to the cassette tape every night before he went to bed. We had many of Dahl's stories, but Fantastic Mr. Fox was his favorite when he was 3-4. I guess we just made up our own images as we listened. I would love to have a book and can't wait to see the movie.

Tim Tipton said...

My great gosh, look at Donald
Chaffin illustrations for Fox,
it pops out at you and gives
you so much detail to the story
for the reader. Quenton Blake's
artwork is dull compared to
Chaffin and unfortunately most
publications of Fox have
Blake's work instead.

Yi-Peng said...

It's interesting to see these illustrations. They're detailed and subdued. That said I think that it's great to have the Quentin Blake version too. Blake really responds well to the early Dahl books even though they were published before he started drawing pictures for Dahl's stories.

Beryl Morgan said...

Donald Chaffin's illustrations are amazing. He is so talented. Truly FANTASTIC!

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