Foxes In Children’s Literature

Ebenezer Newman Downard - Winter Landscape with Fox and Hares

A fox is a wolf who sends flowers.

Ruth Weston

Arthur Applebee asked a group of pre-school children to tell him the characters of a list of animals. They were more certain of the stereotypical personalities of animals they could only have met in stories, such as brave lions or sly foxes, than of the characters of dogs or cats, where experience of specific dogs and cats came in to complicate the picture. Story characteristics are prepared for reception, so to speak; they’re consistent, they don’t contradict themselves, and they’re dispensed at the pace that understanding demands.

The Child That Books Built, Frances Spufford
Reynard the Fox by Wilhelm Von Kaulbach

But the sly characteristic of the fox is sometimes inverted for comic effect. The following is from an earlier time, obviously:

During the Middle Ages, foxes were a widely recognised symbol for the devil. This reputation hung around for a very long time. The following book, Mister Fox, was published in the 1870s.

Pekkon by Kyoko Orimo 1978
Pekkon by Kyoko Orimo 1978
Dullwit The Dumb Fox from Adventures In Wonderland April 1955
The Fox Jumps Over The Parson’s Gate by Randolph Caldecott 1882 cover
Beatrix Potter fox
Artuš Scheiner (1863-1938), Czech Fairytales 1926
Harry McNaught (1923 – 2020) Animal Babies
Niroot Puttapipat – The Red Fairy Book
山口 華楊, Yamaguchi Kayō, (1899–16 March 1984)
The Cunning Little Vixen by Rudolf Tesnohlidek
The Cunning Little Vixen by Rudolf Tesnohlidek
Milo Winter (1888-1956)
Hunting & Fishing Magazine December 1937 fox illustration by Jacob Bates Abbott-fox
Country Home Magazine, October 1937, Basset Hound and Fox on Cover
Lore Pemberton fox looking in window
Lore Pemberton
Person Dressed Up as a Fox, Johannes Hendrikus Antonius Maria Lutz, 1907 - 1916
Person Dressed Up as a Fox, Johannes Hendrikus Antonius Maria Lutz, 1907 – 1916
Donald Chaffin, Fantastic Mr. Fox, 1970
Yuri Vasnetsov, 1968, Russian
The Three Foxes – A. A. Milne Illustrator Boris Kalaushin
Why does the fox have a fluffy tail? Karelian folk tale Illustrator L. Korostyshevsky, 1960s
Fox by Janusz Grabianski (1929 -1976)
Evgenii Ratchev
Wiping dishes for a fox. From The House of the Red Fox by Miriam Byrne and illustrated by Anna Milo Upjohn, 1907
Celia Hart
Thanh Portal
Meg Hunt
Meg Park
Chiara Armellini
Sarah Maycock
Becca Stadtlander
Victoria Semykina
Amy Hamilton
Ron Brooks
Mary Sumner
Jason Laferrera
bobi+bobi, Un ami pour Lucas fox
Enzo Mari, The Fable Game, 1965
Richard Scarry, Golden happy book of animals, 1963
Nikolai Tyrsa
Violetta Testacalda fox
Elisabeth Ivanovsky fox
Maurice Sendak’s fox costume illustration for the NYC Opera production of The Cunning Little Vixen
A chocolate wrapper from the Soviet Union
Charles Robinson (1870–1937) 1935 illustration The Fox and the Grapes for Aesop's Fables
Charles Robinson (1870–1937) 1935 illustration The Fox and the Grapes for Aesop’s Fables
The Handbook of British Mammals 1977 Cover art
Lennart Helje b.1940
a Silkscreen print by Tim Southall and titled ‘Winter Fox’
a Silkscreen print by Tim Southall and titled ‘Winter Fox’
from Vitaly Bianchi’s Fox and the little mouse 1960 by Yuri Vasnezov
Robert Ayton 1961 fox train
Robert Ayton 1961
Heinrich Leutemann
By Arthur Rackham (1867-1939)–Ill. Over Stock and Stone f. Hansel & Grethel & other tales, 1920
Visiting The Foxes by Nicolas Bebbington, Illustrated By R.M. Turvey, Blandford Press Ltd, London mid 1940s
Visiting The Foxes by Nicolas Bebbington, Illustrated By R.M. Turvey, Blandford Press Ltd, London mid 1940s
Visiting The Foxes by Nicolas Bebbington, Illustrated By R.M. Turvey, Blandford Press Ltd, London mid 1940s
Visiting The Foxes by Nicolas Bebbington, Illustrated By R.M. Turvey, Blandford Press Ltd, London mid 1940s
Visiting The Foxes by Nicolas Bebbington, Illustrated By R.M. Turvey, Blandford Press Ltd, London mid 1940s
Visiting The Foxes by Nicolas Bebbington, Illustrated By R.M. Turvey, Blandford Press Ltd, London mid 1940s
Visiting The Foxes by Nicolas Bebbington, Illustrated By R.M. Turvey, Blandford Press Ltd, London mid 1940s
Visiting The Foxes by Nicolas Bebbington, Illustrated By R.M. Turvey, Blandford Press Ltd, London mid 1940s
Visiting The Foxes by Nicolas Bebbington, Illustrated By R.M. Turvey, Blandford Press Ltd, London mid 1940s

A woman trapped on a mountain attempts to survive more than one kind of monster, in a dread-inducing horror novel from the national bestselling author Christina Henry.

Mattie can’t remember a time before she and William lived alone on a mountain together. She must never make him upset. But when Mattie discovers the mutilated body of a fox in the woods, she realizes that they’re not alone after all.

There’s something in the woods that wasn’t there before, something that makes strange cries in the night, something with sharp teeth and claws.

When three strangers appear on the mountaintop looking for the creature in the woods, Mattie knows their presence will anger William. Terrible things happen when William is angry.

A shapeshifting fox (kitsune), sporting a lotus-leaf hat, 踊 る 狐 (1900s-1910s), by Ohara Koson (1878-1945)
Bulgarian Folk Tales illustrated by Rumen Skorchev
Garth Williams from Fox Eyes by Margaret Wise Brown, 1951
Arkady Sher
One Fine Day by Nonny Hogrogian 1971 front cover
One Fine Day by Nonny Hogrogian 1971 back cover
One Fine Day by Nonny Hogrogian 1971 under the dust cover
Tickly and the Fox written by Bill and Rosalie Brown illustrated by Haris Petie 1960s
Tickly and the Fox written by Bill and Rosalie Brown illustrated by Haris Petie 1960s
Tickly and the Fox written by Bill and Rosalie Brown illustrated by Haris Petie 1960s
Tickly and the Fox written by Bill and Rosalie Brown illustrated by Haris Petie 1960s
Tickly and the Fox written by Bill and Rosalie Brown illustrated by Haris Petie 1960s
‘Our Little Friends of Eskimo Land Papik and Natsek ‘ by Frances Carpenter published 1931

Header painting: Ebenezer Newman Downard – Winter Landscape with Fox and Hares