A game of fox & squirrels / Jenn Reese ; with illustrations by Jessica Roux.

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  • Additional Information
    • Publication Information:
      First edition.
    • Abstract:
      Summary: After an incident shatters their family, eleven-year-old Samantha Littlefield and her older sister, Caitlin, are sent to live in rural Oregon with an aunt they've never met. Sam wants nothing more than to go back to the way thing were ... before she spoke up. When Aunt Vicky gives Sam a mysterious card game called A Game of Fox & Squirrels, Sam falls in love with the animal characters, especially the charming trickster fox, Ashander. Then one day Ashander shows up in Sam's Room and offers her an adventure and a promise: Find the Golden Acorn, and Sam can have anything she desires. But the fox is hiding rules that Sam isn't prepared for, and her new home feels more welcoming than she'd ever expected. As Sam is swept up in the dangerous quest, the line between magic and reality grows thin. If she makes the wrong move, she'll lose far more than just a game.
    • Notes:
      A Junior Library Guild Selection.
    • Other Titles:
      Game of fox and squirrels.
    • ISBN:
      9781250243010
      1250243017
    • Accession Number:
      2019940952
    • Accession Number:
      on1089261423
      1089261423
    • Accession Number:
      fay.717051

Reviews

Booklist Reviews 2020 April #1

Sam doesn't like that she and her older sister, Caitlin, have to spend their summer in Oregon with an aunt they've never met. It soon becomes apparent to the reader, however, that Sam is in denial about the serious circumstances that led to her and Caitlin's arrival at Aunt Vicky's. Reese spins a tale about child abuse that is touched with fantasy as Sam processes her new life—and the truth about the one she left behind. After Aunt Vicky gives her a card game called A Game of Fox & Squirrels, Sam is visited by a charming, manipulative fox named Ashander, who draws the girl into a real-life game with high stakes and false promises. The parallels between the dangerous Ashander and Sam's father are drawn with a heavy hand, but fantasy can be a powerful tool for working through trauma. Aunt Vicky and her wife offer a loving and realistic support team for their nieces as the girls learn to trust the safety of their new home and redefine their expectations of family life. Grades 4-8. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2020 Spring

Eleven-year-old Samantha and her older sister Caitlin have been sent away from their home in Los Angeles to stay with their aunt and her wife in Oregon. The mention of a caseworker and Sam's emotional fragility alert the reader to a backstory, gradually revealed, involving the violence of the girls' father. The realistic story line, in which Sam makes a friend and learns to trust her aunt, is paralleled by a fantasy story line begun when Sam discovers a card game called Fox & Squirrels. A charismatic fox character, Ashander, aided by his squirrel devotees, promises to give Sam her heart's desire--a return to her home--if she will only submit to his will. Through the tests that Ashander assigns--acts of vandalism that increase in seriousness--we are given a mirror portrait of the manipulative, abusive behavior of Sam's father. Sam is a bookish girl, and the world of Ashander contains references to Narnia and Middle Earth, but this is not a fantasy where the hero enters and leaves the fantasy world via some portal--rather it is one in which the two worlds are so intertwined that it seems at times as though Sam is undergoing a psychotic break. The squirrels, the kindly aunt and her wife, and Sam's new friend, a sunny boy who knits, add some warmth and lightness, but the overall temperature in this game is chilling. Copyright 2021 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2020 #3

Eleven-year-old Samantha and her older sister Caitlin have been sent away from their home in Los Angeles to stay with their aunt and her wife in Oregon. The mention of a caseworker and Sam's emotional fragility alert the reader to a backstory, gradually revealed, involving the violence of the girls' father. The realistic story line, in which Sam makes a friend and learns to trust her aunt, is paralleled by a fantasy story line begun when Sam discovers a card game called Fox & Squirrels. A charismatic fox character, Ashander, aided by his squirrel devotees, promises to give Sam her heart's desire-a return to her home-if she will only submit to his will. Through the tests that Ashander assigns-acts of vandalism that increase in seriousness-we are given a mirror portrait of the manipulative, abusive behavior of Sam's father. Sam is a bookish girl, and the world of Ashander contains references to Narnia and Middle Earth, but this is not a fantasy where the hero enters and leaves the fantasy world via some portal-rather it is one in which the two worlds are so intertwined that it seems at times as though Sam is undergoing a psychotic break. The squirrels, the kindly aunt and her wife, and Sam's new friend, a sunny boy who knits, add some warmth and lightness, but the overall temperature in this game is chilling. Sarah Ellis May/June 2020 p.130 Copyright 2020 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

PW Reviews 2020 March #3

Reese (the Above World series) sketches a poignant fantastical allegory focusing on the desperate tolls exacted by mental and physical abuse. When their father breaks Caitlin's arm, 13-year-old Caitlin and her 11-year-old sister, Samantha, are relocated from their parents' Los Angeles home to rural Oregon, where they will stay indefinitely with their estranged paternal aunt, Vicky, and Vicky's wife, Hannah. Despite the impossible rules and systems that she and Caitlin have grown up navigating, Sam can't understand why they have to "visit" Oregon; her favorite books have taught her that "heroes always home." After receiving the titular card game from Aunt Vicky, Sam is surprised when a wily fox named Ashander, as well as his emissaries, three friendly anthropomorphic squirrels, appear, offering her heart's desire—for a steep price. Yet Oregon isn't horrible, and Sam must decide whether fulfilling the fox's escalating ultimatums is worth disrupting the stable, love-filled life Caitlin and Sam are settling into. The accessible narrative presents generational trauma and its echoes unflinchingly, encouraging readers in similar situations to seek community and help from trusted adults. An author's note leads to a website with resources; final art not seen by PW. Ages 10–14. Agent: Holly Root, Root Literary. (Apr.)

Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly.