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Book Review

Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Mr. Fox takes a duck, goose, turkey or chicken every night from one of three local farmers to feed his family. The poultry belongs to Farmer Boggis (chickens), Farmer Bunce (geese and ducks) or Farmer Bean (turkeys). The farmers don't like having their birds stolen.

Bean comes up with an idea for how to kill Mr. Fox. Boggis, Bunce and Bean hide in the forest near the fox family's hole. When Mr. Fox comes out of it, they start shooting at him. But Mr. Fox is too quick for them. He dives back into his hole, and only his tail is shot off and left behind.

The farmers start to dig into the foxhole with shovels. The fox family begins to dig quickly and deeply to stay out of reach of the farmers. Before too long, the men grow tired of digging.

Bunce and Bean hurry back to their farms to get their tractor and mechanical shovel. When Mr. Fox and his family hear the noise of the machines, they work even harder to dig their tunnel deeper and deeper. Soon the top of the hill where Mr. Fox, his family and the farmers live is flattened, and then it becomes a crater, such as those found at the top of a volcano.

Bean and Bunce stop their machines at 6 p.m. They are tired but still determined to capture Mr. Fox. They decide to make camp around the hole and wait for Mr. Fox to starve. They also use all their workers to surround the hill so the foxes don't create another exit hole and escape.

Then the men wait. Slowly Mr. Fox and his family grow very hungry. After three days and nights, Mr. Fox comes up with an idea that his children are willing to help him accomplish.

Mr. Fox and his children dig their way to one of Boggis' chicken houses. Once inside, they all drink the water for the chickens. Then he asks his biggest son to take three chickens that Mr. Fox has killed back to their mother.

Mr. Fox and his other children leave the chicken house exactly the way they found it so no one will know they were there. When Mrs. Fox sees her son with the chickens, she thinks she is dreaming. Her son has to convince her that she isn't.

Mr. Fox meets Badger and his son in a tunnel. He learns that the badger, mole, rabbit, and weasel families are all caught in the same trap that Mr. Fox is. They can't leave and are starving to death. Mr. Fox invites all of them to a feast. The Badger's son is sent to tell all the other animals to go to the foxes' den.

Mr. Fox leads Badger and his remaining three children to Bunce's storehouse. They dig quicker because Badger is an excellent digger. Once at the storehouse, they place already prepared geese, ducks, ham, and bacon in a pushcart, along with carrots for the rabbit family. Then two of Mr. Fox's children push the carts back to Mrs. Fox. And they tell her to expect guests.

As Mr. Fox, Badger, and the smallest fox burrow to Bean's underground room, a cider cellar, Badger says he doesn't like stealing from others. Mr. Fox convinces him that they are taking only what is needed to keep their families alive, and they aren't trying to kill anyone, as Boggis, Bunce, and Bean are. That makes Badger feel better about what they are doing.

They reach a brick wall that is underground and loosen some of the bricks. Though a rat tries to keep them from the cider, they get into the room and take a drink. Everyone loves the liquid. But then someone upstairs in the house tells a servant named Mabel to get the cider downstairs for Bean. Mabel starts down the cellar stairs.

Mabel takes two jars of cider that are beside the jar of cider where Mr. Fox is hiding. But she leaves the cellar with only those two jars. She doesn't find them.

The animals grab three jars of cider and leave the cellar, being careful to put each brick back in place. Then they all go to the feast where five families — moles, weasels, rabbits, badgers and foxes — eat and toast each other.

Mr. Fox suggests that they never have to leave the tunnels, if they don't want to. They can find food now whenever they want. Meanwhile, Boggis, Bunce, and Bean wait for Mr. Fox to make a run for it outside the foxhole. And as far as the narrator knows, they are still there.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Mr. and Mrs. Fox care for and try to provide for their four children, though they do it through stealing food from the local farmers. All the animal parents try to take care of their children.


Shut up, dang, blast, and heck appear, and villagers think the farmers have gone mad. When the farmers stop digging with machines, Bunce is said to curse at Mr. Fox with "dirty words," but none are included. There is name calling, such as dirty stinking fox, dingbat, and miserable midget.

Mr. Fox and his family are in danger of being taken out of their foxhole and killed. At one point, the farmers camp around the foxhole, hoping to make Mr. Fox and his family starve to death. The moles, weasels, badgers and rabbits are all slowly starving to death.



Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Stealing: Every day Mr. Fox steals food from the farmers for his family. He convinces Badger that what they were stealing is necessary to keep their families alive.

Alcohol: The cider the animals drink is alcoholic. Rat drinks a lot of cider, and he is drunk.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

7 to 10


Roald Dahl






Record Label



George Allen & Unwin in the UK and Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S., originally; the review was written from a book published by Puffin Books, a division of the Penguin Young Readers Group


On Video

Year Published





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