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Fantastic Mr. Fox

Last updated Thursday, September 24, 2020

Author: Roald Dahl
Date of Publication: 2002
ISBN: 0375822070
Grade Level: 4th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Aug. 2010

Synopsis: In the tradition of The Adventures of Peter Rabbit, this is a "garden tale" of farmer versus vermin, or vice versa. The farmers in this case are a vaguely criminal team of three stooges: "Boggis and Bunce and Bean / One fat, one short, one lean. / These horrible crooks / So different in looks / Were nonetheless equally mean." Whatever their prowess as poultry farmers, within these pages their sole objective is the extermination of our hero--the noble, the clever, the Fantastic Mr. Fox. Our loyalties are defined from the start; after all, how could you cheer for a man named Bunce who eats his doughnuts stuffed with mashed goose livers? As one might expect, the farmers in this story come out smelling like ... well, what farmers occasionally do smell like.

Note to readers:
•  Hear and see this book read aloud on YouTube by one of our volunteers, including a craft at the end! More of the book can be seen at this YouTube playlist.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Has anyone seen the movie? What did you think of the movie?
•  Did you know it was a book, too?
•  What are foxes? What are foxes known for (in literature)?
•  Have you read any other Roald Dahl books?( Charlie Chocolate Factory, Matilda, James
•  End of page 7 Fox steals food from the farmers: is it OK to steal from mean people?
•  Do you feel sorry for the Fox family? Why? What about the farmers? They have been working hard for their crop yield.
•  How would you catch the Fox? How would you stop Mr. Fox?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  1. What do you think of Mr. Fox? Do you admire him? What qualities do you admire? Do you think he is wrong to take the chickens from the farmers?
•  2. How could Mr. Fox tell one farmer from another? How did he always know where they were hiding?
•  3. Why did the people laugh at the three farmers when the farmers destroyed the hill?
•  4. Would you be mad at Mr. Fox if you were Mr. Badger? Why or why not?
•  5. Why did Badger worry about what he and Mr. Fox were doing? Were they doing anything wrong? What makes you think so?
•  6. Can you imagine what Mr. Boggis, Mr. Bunce, and Mr. Bean will be feeling when they find out they have been outwitted by Fantastic Mr. Fox? What plans do you think they will make to get their own back? How will Mr. Fox outwit them this time?

Craft ideas:
•  1. Have the kids draw a map of how they would go from their house to where they would go if they had to create tunnels to their favorite or necessary places in their neighborhood.
•  2. Have the kids draw a map (either as a group or individually) of the 3 farms and Mr. Fox's tunnels. For instance, the fox hole could be southwest of Farmer Bunce's house and Bunce's house 20 feet from Farmer Boggis, etc. (It is not necessary to stay strictly accurate to the book- the goal is to have fun). After they construct the map, the kids can even make up problems for each other and try to figure out where you would end up. For example, if you go 10 from Boggis' house and then west, where would you end up?"
•  3. Make a Venn Diagram describing each of the farmers. See example below. Next have students illustrate each farmer. Make a display placing the Venn Diagram in the middle. Next place each farmer next to his description.

Special activities:
•  Make A Mr. Fox Mask as seen in the sample crafts submitted in the book

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don't have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!