Down in the valley there were three farms.
Mr Fox is a master poacher – he regularly frequents the farms of three local farmers without getting caught. But Boggis, Bunce and Bean have had enough! One day they decide to take matters into their own hands and hunt the thieving fox. But Mr Fox is cunning and wise, he discovers their plans and finds a way to beat them at their own game…
Fantastic Mr Fox is one of Dahl’s shorter stories but it should not be underestimated by any means. It’s a fast-paced, mission-style adventure where the little guys outsmart the blundering bullies to save the day – a perfect book for children establishing themselves as readers.
Dahl creates three of the meanest men in farmers Boris, Bunce and Bean – two gluttons and a tricksy drunk. It always surprises me how much Dahl was allowed to get away with in his books but I’m so glad the Publisher saw past the alcoholic references related to cider-farmer Bean as the cider scene with Rat is one of my favourites!
As a charismatic Robin Hood-esque character, Mr Fox has a very gung-ho attitude to survival and it’s his cock-sure wit that makes this story so light-hearted and brilliant. He won’t let anyone tell him of the impossible (an attitude we could all stand to adopt at times!) and he leads his little band of fox cubs to triumph over the murderous farmers on his tail – pun absolutely intended!
The final image of the farmers still hunched over the foxhole, waiting for their target is utterly perfect – they cannot control nature for nature adapts and changes in spite of man. I love the idea that when they eventually return home, their farms will be completely barren and they’ll have no idea why! I’ve never been a fan of anthropomorphised animal tales but Fantastic Mr Fox is, like its author, an exception to the rule and one Dahl I hold very dear indeed.