Fox 8

A fable for our times



WCLS celebrates its 75th anniversary of sharing stories this year. We’ll unveil #BooksThatSuitYou every week throughout 2019. Visit http://www.wcls.org/booksthatsuityou to find your next great read.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Back in 1995, there was a fabulous movie about a little pig who learns to herd sheep; maybe you remember it?

My husband and I referred to Babe as the “best talking pig movie of the year” because there were actually two talking pig movies released that year—Gordy was the other—and really, there is no comparison. (Both are available at your local libraries; if you want to see for yourself, head to http://www.wcls.org.)

So when I say Fox 8 is the best talking fox book for adults of the year, you will know a few things about me: 1. I have a high tolerance for talking animal stories; 2. I am a little behind the times as Fox 8 was first published in 2013 but was re-released in its illustrated edition in 2018; 3. There are tons of talking fox books for children but not as many for adults; and 4. I think Fox 8 by George Saunders, illustrated by Chelsea Cardinal, is pretty special.

You may know Saunders for his wildly inventive novel Lincoln on the Bardo, which won the Man Booker Prize in 2017. It doesn’t seem like much of a stretch for an author who imagined the ghost of Abraham Lincoln’s son Willie, trapped “in the bardo” between death and reincarnation, to have also written a book told from the point of view of a wild fox. Fox 8 learns to speak “Yuman” by observing a mother reading bedtime stories to her children. 

We first get a sense of Fox 8, a curious, dreamy fellow whose ability to understand Yuman does not extend to the conventions of English spelling, grammar or punctuation. He “luvs heering the Storys” told by “the lady to her pups.” 

“It made me feel gud, like Yumans cud feel luv and show luv. In other werds, hope full for the future of Erth!” He isn’t as thrilled with the story he hears about a fox who “trikked a Chiken” as he feels that foxes and chickens have a “Super Fare Deel, which is: they make the egs, we take the egs, they make more egs.”

Fox 8 uses his speaking and reading skills to try to make sense of the commotion in the forest. Yumans are “rekking” the forest to build “FoxViewCommons” (a “Mawl”), causing death and destruction to foxes and other living things. This sweet fable takes a dark turn, and Fox 8 asks, “what is rong with you people?” He types out a note to humanity, and ends with some advice: “If you want your Storys to end happy, try being niser.”

The short story includes whimsical line drawings of chickens wearing glasses, foxes hiding in a SuperMall, and Fox 8 typing on a manual typewriter. These add charm and emotion to the tale. Fox 8 is a slim tome that’s good for a giggle as well as some quiet contemplation. A dear Friend of the Library from Point Roberts suggested I give it a read and now I pass it along to you.

Christine Perkins is the executive director of the Whatcom County Library System.

More Words...
Starting small, ending big

Late last summer, Huxley professor Gigi Berardi signed a contract to publish her book, FoodWISE: A Whole Systems Guide to Sustainable and Delicious Food Choices, shortly before she left the country on sabbatical.

By the time she returned home to Bellingham, she had discovered that what…

more »
Book Clubbing
Paging new members

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to read more in 2020, it might behoove you to know there are approximately 30 book clubs in Whatcom County designed to help you achieve that page-turning goal.

That may seem like an awful lot to choose from, but when you consider the varied…

more »
Library Road Trip
A countywide journey

A year ago, when Whatcom County Library System (WCLS) staff first brainstormed ways to commemorate our 75th anniversary, we thought, “Wouldn’t it be fun to take a giant road trip to each of our 10 libraries and a bookmobile stop the day of our actual anniversary?” 

So on Nov. 7,…

more »
A Forest of Words Poetry Competition

10:00am|Whatcom County

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Beauty and the Beast

7:00pm|BAAY Theater

The Curious Savage

7:00pm|Alger Community Church

Skagit Eagle Festival


Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Space Trek

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Sedro-Woolley Community Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Post #43

Skagit Eagle Festival


Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Langar in Lynden

11:00am| Guru Nanak Gursikh Gurdwara

Birding for Kids


An American in Paris

7:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

An American in Paris


Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Skagit Eagle Festival


Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Birding for Kids


MLK Day Work Party

9:00am|Barr Creek

MLK Day of Service Work Party

10:00am|Whatcom Creek

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Read-In

10:00am|Village Books

Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Celebration

12:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Teen Art Club

3:00pm|Blaine Library

Community Soup Kitchen

6:00pm|Little Cheerful Cafe

Cider U

6:30pm|Thousand Acre Cider House


7:00pm|Alternative Library

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day event

7:00pm|Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship


9:00pm|Firefly Lounge

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Tea for Beginners

2:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

Cook It and Book It

3:30pm|Lynden Library

Community Conversations Book group

4:00pm|Village Books

All-Paces Run

6:00pm|Fairhaven Runners

Skagit Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Bayview Civic Hall

Intro to Improv

7:00pm|Improv Playworks

Books on Tap

7:00pm|North Fork Brewery

see our complete calendar »