Date Originally Published: 1967
Format: eBook, hardcover
TL;DR Review: Amazing book to get into the mind of animals, but not for the faint of heart.
Anyone who has gone to a used book store with me in the past about 8 years has heard me ask the clerk if they have a copy of The Fox and the Hound – the original. My mother won Christmas last year by finding it when a library was selling their copy. Recently, Amazon sent me an email to say they finally had it in ebook format. You can now own it yourself via either Amazon or Barnes & Noble for $6.99.
I know I was in about sixth grade when mom let me read Adventure Happy by Jules Mannix (the wife). I fell in love. I could only imagine living that life – and I wanted to imagine more of it. Then I found a copy of Fox and the Hound. I remember it was a library book. I devoured it. I couldn’t keep my hands off it and I couldn’t stop reading “just one more page.”
If you’ve seen the Disney version… forget everything you know. Yes, there is a fox named Tod. Yes, there is a hound named Copper. That’s about the only thing about it Disney kept. I honestly don’t understand why he bought the rights to this book, it doesn’t make sense. He could have changed names (fox could have been Sam and the hound Digger) and called it “Friendship” or something… In the NOVEL, Tod is a wild fox who is trying to survive and Copper is a bloodhound for a hunter. Yes, Tod spends a little time as a cub with humans, but he runs away to be a wild animal.
Without giving away the details of the book, the chapters are each titled by the type of hunt that Copper or Tod participate in. Mannix does as good a job as I have ever seen to avoid anthropomorphism. The animals don’t speak and they have limited reasoning. Mannix even discusses this several times, especially when Tod is trying to share his knowledge to his offspring.
There are times the descriptions can get a little thick, describing actions which are not entirely human through scent and touch. The narrator does some describing of why they might be said that way, but not everywhere. There are also places were a description is glossed over and I would have liked more detail. I got the distinct feeling that Mannix assumes everyone understands what a fox den should look like.
Overall, this a book I highly recommend to people because it challenges how we perceive animals and assume they think. I will admit though, I think one of my favorite parts of the book was the author’s afterward talking about his own pair of tame-ish foxes and the research he did to write the book (when I tell people I used to read those and saw how many authors did research and that’s why I went and studied history – this is one of those books).