Pax by Sara Pennypacker

Peter and his pet fox, Pax, have been inseparable since Peter adopted the orphaned kit five years ago. But now, with war looming large on the horizon, Peter’s father decides to send him away to live with his grandfather, while his father stays to fight. Worse than leaving home, though, is that on the way to grandfather’s, Peter’s dad makes him release Pax back into the woods.

Soon after arriving at his grandfather’s, Peter knows he’s made a great mistake. How could gentlePax Pax survive alone in the woods with no knowledge of hunting or coyotes? Peter sets off on a quest to rejoin his friend, finding both dangers and help along the way.

Meanwhile, Pax is alone in the woods, confused as to why his boy has left him. He’s determined to return home, where he believes he’ll find Peter, but the woods are dangerous. Luckily, Pax finds support and friendship when he meets some of the foxes of the woods.

Author Sara Pennypacker tells this heartrending story in chapters that alternate between Peter’s perspective and Pax’s. On their journeys, Peter and Pax both learn about courage, friendship, and the costs of war, and neither is the same by story’s end. Pax is a wonderful story about growing up. It is sad, yes, but also very beautiful.