Thursday, October 26, 2023

Leila and the Blue Fox by Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Tom de Freston


Leila and her mother are refugees from Syria.  Leila lives with her aunt and cousin in England.  Her mother works away from home. Leila doesn’t realise that her mother does this in order to support them all and thinks it’s because she does not want to spend time with Leila. Their big adventure shows Leila that her mother is really the loving parent she wished for.  

Leila joins her mother for the summer. Her mother is tracking the journey of a blue fox, Miso that has trekked over 2000 miles across the Arctic. This part of the story is based on a true event. A fox that the scientists called Anna covered over 2000 miles in seventy-six days.

Miso  gets into trouble and becomes trapped on a thin ice-floe. Leila, being the smallest in the team, rescues her. There is a moral dilemma here: should humans who are observing nature interfere in nature? They do anyway but this only leads them into further trouble: they stray into a territory for which Leila’s mum does not have a visa and where Leila isn’t even registered as being on the ship.  

Leila, Matty and Britta have created a Twitter account for Miso. Support for Leila and her mum from Miso’s Twitter followers and the help of a good lawyer get them out of trouble. However, it is traumatic for them; it brings back memories of their former escape from Syria.  

Leila and her mum are eventually returned unharmed. Miso finds a mate.      

Leila’s story and Miso’s story are intertwined.  We have both points of view.

There are some blue monochrome illustrations throughout and even some transparent overlays. This a beautiful and very tactile book.

The text is quite dense, blocked and in a serif font with difficult ‘a’s and ‘g’s. There is a note about Anna the fox at the end of the book and a short bibliography of Millwood and de Freston.  

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