Faraway Fox by Jolene Thompson and illustrated by Justin K. Thompson
An important environmental book about the human responsibility of caring for Earth’s animals, especially as humans take away more and more of their habitat. A fox in what used to be woods and meadows and is now suburbs is separated from the rest of his family by a multiple lane highway. There is no way he can get across, so he is trapped. He misses his family and the experiences they shared together, such as swimming in the stream and then resting under the forest trees. Then one day, men begin to dig the earth where the fox lives. He doesn’t understand what they are doing, but they are preparing a wildlife preserve, which includes building a highway underpass so animals can safely cross the highway. When it is finished, the fox investigates and finds that at the other end of the tunnel is open land and his family. They are reunited thanks to the underpass! With artwork that illustrates the changes to the landscape and conveys the fox’s loneliness and despair, and then his joy at finding his family. A gentle book that teaches children a lesson that is becoming more and more urgent as open land disappears in this country and the landscape becomes mostly urban and suburban.
There is an author’s note at the end of the book that gives further information about worldwide efforts to help animals by creating wildlife crossings. The Netherlands, France, and Canada are countries cited by the author as being progressive in building wildlife crossings. Unfortunately, the United States is far behind other countries in this effort. The author cites a statistic that every 26 seconds an animal is hit by a car on this country’s highways. California is currently working on a project to create a wildlife crossing over the U.S. 101 freeway in southern California.