Although 12-year-old Peter didn't name his beloved pet fox Pax after the Latin word for "peace," his instincts were canny. A war over water rights, "a human sickness," has swept the country, and Peter's father enlists. Just before Peter is sent to stay with his grandfather, he is forced to release Pax, the orphan kit he's raised for five years, into the wild. Immediately filled with regret, the boy begins what he estimates to be a week-long, 200-mile trek to find his fox. He and Pax are one, inseparable, and that is all that matters.

Pax, too, is desperate to find "his human." Author Sara Pennypacker (the Clementine series, Summer of the Gypsy Moths) gives the two protagonists--Peter and Pax--equal play by allowing them alternating chapters. Pax needs his boy: "His boy would feed him." But when days go by and the boy does not return, Pax's obsession with finding him is shared with the desperate need to survive in the war-torn, coyote-haunted landscape. Inevitably, Peter and Pax, both out of their element, experience heartrending adventures of self-discovery.

Set somewhere in the near future in a Western country like the U.S., this strikingly original novel, illustrated by Caldecott artist Jon Klassen, takes on themes of loyalty, anger, memory, grief, trust and truth. Anyone who's ever experienced the feeling of being "two but not two" with an animal will feel the agony of Peter and Pax's separation, and the even deeper ache of the truth each learns about himself. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

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