cover image Reynard the Fox

Reynard the Fox

Renate Raecke, illus. by Jonas Lauströer. Minedition, $19.99 (80p) ISBN 978-1-6626-5006-2

Wily Reynard eludes justice, but his charms elude the reader in Raecke’s retold tales. When King Noble the lion assembles his subjects, they are unified in complaint against Reynard, who has tricked and maimed them; when the king summons Reynard, the fox humiliates the king’s advisers before weaseling out of justice. The deadpan surrealism of Lauströer’s sophisticated, often violent illustrations—emotive depictions of realistic animals attired in human dress feature a severed chicken head, a bleeding fox body, screaming bears, and a cat in a noose —meld with Raecke’s heightened language, notable for its archaic tones: “Noble the lion, king of all the beasts, called his subjects, as he did every year, to come to a friendly meeting.” Raecke’s framing, which centers the litany of Reynard’s cruelties , including setting traps for Chanticleer the rooster and killing his children, does little to show his intelligence as anything but self-serving, making it hard to celebrate when he manages to avoid punishment thanks to the queen’s intercession and his own “clever mind.” Ages 5–9. [em](Oct.) [/em]