Darling Hedgehog Goes Down a Foxhole
by Auralee Arkinsly
Capture Books

"It crossed Darling’s mind that maybe a friendship with Miss Fox was not meant to be."

Darling—a young, innocent hedgehog—loses track of her parents and is searching for them when she falls into a hole and winds up with Miss Fox, who seems all too pleased to have a hedgehog visitor, even offering Darling, whom she keeps calling “Dumpling,” a pink tutu and a ribbon for her hair. She’s so kind that Darling naively begins to try to figure out a way to reciprocate her hospitality. Then Darling offers to eat slugs, her favorite and something the fox despises—the perfect solution. Miss Fox doesn’t mind that all that eating will make Darling plump. All goes well until Darling accidentally wanders into Miss Fox’s kitchen and makes a horrifying discovery. From that, she learns a valuable lesson: “Not every stranger can be a friend;” foxes will be foxes, no matter how friendly they seem.

In this, her first early reader chapter book, Arkinsly has created a clever tale with an important message for its audience: be careful whom you befriend. The illustrations gracing every page are the creation of Julia Swazy and show great promise for that young artist. Darling is charming, with big, beaming soft eyes, while Miss Fox’s eyes are slitted and evoke suspicion. The hedgehog child is easily swayed by appeals to vanity and eager to please, but in a situation of true danger, she comes through heroically, a quality that the author would doubtless like for young readers to emulate. Using the “sly fox” as a symbolic lure appeals to the wider folklore of that animal in classic children’s stories, while Darling’s demeanor combines happy-go-lucky goodness combined with her strong determination to find her missing parents. This story will be an engaging read-to for younger children, with enough sophistication for older children to read, enjoy, and understand on their own.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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