Book review: A Game of Fox and Squirrels

Middle grade fiction
by Jenn Reese

A moving, realistic fantasy tale with hidden depths. After an incident shatters their family, Sam and her older sister Caitlin are sent to live in rural Oregon with Aunt Vicky, whom they’ve never met before. Sam, however, wants nothing more than to return home to her life in LA.

Trying to make life easier for her niece, Aunt Vicky gives Sam a mysterious card game called “A Game of Fox and Squirrels,” and Sam loves it, particularly the plucky squirrels and charming fox. Then Ashander, the trickster fox from the game, shows up in real life with a challenge: find the Golden Acorn. Sam plunges into her quest, hoping that if she succeeds, it will allow her to return home to her parents and resume her normal life.

While pursuing the acorn and dealing with the trickster fox, Sam also delves deeper into the realities of her fractured family, and eventually discovers the true meaning of bravery… and of home. Reese believably captures the mindset of an 11-year-old girl who doesn’t understand the incidents of her life, but is doing the best she can to survive and thrive.

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