Ferdinand Fox’s First Summer
By: Mary Holland
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Sylvan Dell Publishing (March 5, 2013)
Ferdinand Fox’s First Summer is a delightful photographic journal about a red fox as he explores the world around him during the first few months of his life. When the book begins, Ferdinand is about a month old. Each colorful two-page spread documents each new learning experience through his first summer and provides wonderful information about the life of this fascinating canine.
I really like the close-up detailed photographs by Ms. Holland, and I must admit that I found the baby fox to be quite precious! But I also discovered a lot about foxes and their habits in this informational and interesting journal—things I never knew before.
In this story, Ferdinand and his brothers and sisters are born in an underground den at the end of a tunnel. They stay in darkness until they are about a month old, and when they do venture out at about five weeks old, they stay very close to their home. Their mother takes very good care of them, and she teaches them all the skills they need in order to become self-sufficient.
Young foxes learn about the world by using their different senses, and like human babies, they like to put all kinds of things in their mouths as well! They are also extremely good listeners, but their most important sense is the sense of smell.
And here’s another fun fact. Young foxes like Ferdinand are very playful, and they enjoy pouncing on each other. According to Ms. Holland, fox kits pretend to fight in order to see who the leader is and to learn how to defend themselves against a hungry hawk or coyote.
Both the parents of the kits bring food back to the den. The first kit to grab the offering gets to eat it. This teaches the babies to be more aggressive! And when the mother fox weans the kits, they must learn to hunt for themselves—so being aggressive is a must! There is a photo of Ferdinand holding a mole in his mouth as he learns to catch his own food.
The book concludes with the season turning into autumn, and the reader learns that during the cooler months, Ferdinand will continue to grow and learn. And come spring, he will probably have kits of his own!
As always, Sylvan Dell includes educational extras at the end of the book called ‘For Creative Minds.’ Featured are Red Fox Fun Facts and Adaptations, A Red Fox Life Cycle Sequencing Activity, and a ‘What Do Red Foxes Eat?’ page. However, more than 30 pages of cross-curricular activities and three unique quizzes are available here on the Sylvan Dell website.
Overall, I really enjoyed Ferdinand Fox’s First Summer and found it to be very informative and fun to read. The photographs are excellent as well. Ms. Holland did a great job capturing the personality of Ferdinand and his siblings, in both words and images. Highly recommended!
About the Author:
Mary Holland is a naturalist, nature photographer, columnist, and award-winning author with a life-long passion for natural history. After graduating from the University of Michigan's School of Natural Resources, Mary worked as a naturalist at the Museum of the Hudson Highlands in New York state, directed the state-wide Environmental Learning for the Future program for the Vermont Institute of Natural Science, worked as a resource naturalist for the Massachusetts Audubon Society, and designed and presented her own Knee-High Nature Programs for libraries and elementary schools throughout Vermont and New Hampshire. Her children's book, Milkweed Visitors, received national acclaim when it was placed on the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Science Books and Films list for the best books of 2006 in the category Children's Books under Zoological Sciences. Mary's book Naturally Curious: a Photographic Field Guide and Month-by-Month Journey Through the Fields, Woods and Marshes of New England won the 2011 National Outdoor Book Award for the Nature Guidebook category. Mary lives in Vermont with her lab, Emma.