Tuesday, March 22, 2016

"Maybe a Fox"

Kathi Appelt is the author of the Newbery Honoree, National Book Award finalist, PEN USA Literary Award–winning, and bestselling The Underneath as well as the National Book Award finalist The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, Keeper, and many picture books including Counting Crows. Alison McGhee is the New York Times bestselling author of Someday, as well as Firefly Hollow, Little Boy, So Many Days, Bye-Bye Crib, Always, A Very Brave Witch, and the Bink and Gollie books. Her other children’s books include All Rivers Flow to the Sea, Countdown to Kindergarten, and Snap. McGhee is also the author of the Pulitzer Prize–nominated adult novel Shadowbaby, which was also a Today show book club selection.

They applied the Page 69 Test to their new novel, Maybe a Fox, and reported the following:
From page 69:
The sheriff sat down at their kitchen table. “There’s nothing, Chess,” he said. There was not a single article of her clothing, either. No boots. No headband. No single orange mitten. No pajamas. Nothing.

“We’ll keep looking,” Jules heard the sheriff say.

A small bead of hope filled Jules’s chest. They’d dragged the river. They hadn’t found anything. They hadn’t. As long as they hadn’t found Sylvie in the river, she could still be alive, couldn’t she?

But where? And what about the hounds? Wouldn’t they be able to track her? As if in answer, the sheriff said, “Hard to track on snow, especially after it’s melted.”
As it turns out, this small section on page 69 of Maybe a Fox shines a light on everything that Jules, one of the main characters, wants to believe. As long as her missing sister, Sylvie, remains unfound, then she can hold onto a shimmery hope that maybe, just maybe, she’s still out there, that maybe the worst hasn’t happened, that maybe there’s something that has been overlooked.

Of course, the worst has happened. We can see it in the demeanor of the sheriff, in his unwillingness to offer up any possibilities for a different outcome. We know for certain that Sylvie is gone when he answers Jules’s unasked question about the hounds, as if he’s reading her mind.

And yet, this piece is also filled up with “maybe’s.” And that’s at least one of the primary points of this book—in the maybe’s there are possibilities. This story is filled up with questions that have no real answers. And yet, it’s also filled with possibilities, and that’s what we see in Jules here. As long as she has questions, there are surely answers, even if they’re not the ones we were expecting.
Visit Kathi Appelt's website and Alison McGhee's website.

--Marshal Zeringue