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Reviewed by Alyssa Elmore for Readers' Favorite
Two children brave wintry elements to rescue trapped miners in the historical children's adventure story, The Fox and the Train by Alice Gent. Thirteen-year-old Anna has lost almost everything; first, her father succumbed to the effects of the Great War, then her mother fell ill. Although her mother's illness is mysterious, Grandma says that the black foxes came and stole her memories away in the night. All that is left of Anna's mother is a shadow of who she was once. With one brother away fighting the war, and her other brother mining coal for the war effort, Anna feels very lonely and closed off. Living too far from the village, Anna only has her Grandma and her nearby autistic best friend Benny. When the town is suddenly hit with a snowstorm that downs a large tree over the only way in or out of the small village, Anna is in despair. Worried she won't see or hear from her brothers due to the train engine becoming a twisted heap of metal from the downed tree, Anna fears the worst.
When news comes that the same snowstorm has caused a collapse in the mine where Anna's brother works, the town is in a panicked frenzy. Without a working train, there is very little hope. The adults are busy with the track and say that no one can survive the six-day trek through the tangled forest to rescue the workers. To Anna and Benny, the grown-ups have already accepted the miners as dead. Unable to leave the miners' lives to fate, the two children decide to take matters into their own hands and gather supplies to rescue the workers themselves. Only, what they discover on their dangerous trip can change the outcome of the war and endanger them more than the elements. Now, Anna must face her worst fears and prove to herself and the town that she is more than just the invisible little fox she imagines herself to be. Can Anna and Benny find the mine through the raging storms and thick, confusing forest? Will she and Benny be able to rescue the workers before it is too late?
Reminiscent of Monique Perouton's classic The Village That Slept, The Fox and the Train by Alice Gent blends a gripping journey, child-like faith, and the unconditional love of true friends into a colorfully written children's book. An unlikely pair to rescue trapped miners, Anna and Benny draw on each other's strengths to pull them through their challenges. Although Benny is autistic, Anna believes in her friend and trusts him. This book had me crying, laughing, and holding my breath through the exciting adventures as the two children journey through the dark forest and icy snow. The war aspects were pleasant twists that made the story all the more thrilling! A beautiful story of trust and hope, this book is perfect to snuggle up with and enjoy a large cup of cocoa on a cold evening. I recommend this book to children ages ten to thirteen.