Kathi Appelt; Alison McGhee Maybe a Fox

ISBN 13: 9781442482432

Maybe a Fox

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9781442482432: Maybe a Fox

Worlds collide in a spectacular way when Newbery and National Book Award finalist Kathi Appelt and Pulitzer Prize nominee and #1 New York Times bestseller Alison McGhee team up to create a fantastical, heartbreaking, and gorgeous tale about two sisters, a fox cub, and what happens when one of the sisters disappears forever.

Sylvie and Jules, Jules and Sylvie. Better than just sisters, more than best friends, they’d be identical twins if only they’d been born in the same year. And if only Sylvie wasn’t such a fast—faster than fast—runner. But Sylvie is too fast, and when she runs to the river they’re not supposed to go anywhere near to throw a wish rock just before the school bus comes on a snowy morning, she runs so fast that no one sees what happens...and no one ever sees her again. Jules is devastated, but she refuses to believe what all the others believe, that—like their mother—her sister is gone forever.

At the very same time, in the shadow world, a shadow fox is born—half of the spirit world, half of the animal world. She too is fast—faster than fast—and she senses danger. She’s too young to know exactly what she senses, but she knows something is very wrong. And when Jules believes one last wish rock for Sylvie needs to be thrown into the river, the human and shadow worlds collide.

Writing in alternate voices—one Jules’s, the other the fox’s—Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee tell the searingly beautiful tale of one small family’s moment of heartbreak, a moment that unfolds into one that is epic, mythic, shimmering, and most of all, hopeful.

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The Collaborative process behind Maybe a Fox by Alison McGhee and Kathi Appelt

The Table Between the pillars, a place where the authors cooked up ideas together, at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

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The collaboration that would become Maybe a Fox began many years ago in a freezing and dingy dorm at Vermont College of Fine Arts, where we were new both to the faculty and to each other. Alison’s roller bag had gone missing at the airport, and she remembers Kathi tilting her head in sympathy and offering, in that beautiful Texas accent of hers, to lend her a pair of pajamas. Kathi doesn’t remember that, but she does remember breakfast the next day, when the two of us loaded up our trays and scuttled to sit together at a small table between two huge pillars in the drafty dining hall, a table we sat at every day, three times a day, for each of the residencies we shared.

It was friend-love at first sight, and it was that very first week, when we were eating one of the many meals we ate together Between the Pillars, that Kathi suggested we write a book together.

“What kind of book?” Alison said.

“A book about two sisters,” Kathi answered.

Both of us had many other projects that occupied us, and the idea was tabled, although one of us would occasionally bring it up over the years. Then, about five years ago, Alison sent out a poem about a small red fox in snow as her Poem of the Week. Something about that little fox ignited both of us, and we decided to take the plunge and begin our book.

The ground rules:

  • The book would be about two sisters who were somehow separated, and it would also contain a small red fox.
  • Each of us would take on a new challenge in the writing, something she’d never done before as a writer.
  • We would each write in a separate viewpoint, with chapters alternating between those viewpoints.

After considering the sister possibilities—twins separated at birth? Sisters, each living with one parent? One sister in prison and the other not? One sister alive and the other not?—we left it vague. Sisters, separated somehow. We figured the fox would appear on its own terms, when the time was right, so we didn’t worry about that. As for the personal writing challenge, Kathi decided to write in first person, since she hadn’t before, and Alison decided to write in the voice of the fox, since up until then she’d stayed strictly with humans.

We began the book by trading chapters weekly, sometimes more often if the muse struck. We worked wildly fast, most of the time, and the story gathered ground and impetus week by week.

Eventually we realized that we were writing a book about maybes, about the way we as human beings try to answer unanswerable questions: What happens when we die? What happens with grief too big to stand? What happens when you can’t find the answers to what you most need to know? And that sense, of both possibility and heartbroken wonder, became the core of the novel.

At one point early on, Kathi flew up from Texas, and we sat on Alison’s porch in Minneapolis and took turns reading chapters out loud to each other, pencils in hands, marking up places to revise. We laughed. We cried. We talked through every aspect of plot and character. We never once, strangely enough, argued. Kathi flew back to Texas and the rewrites continued for another three years. At some point along the way we began sending each other fox totems: a fox necklace, a framed fox photograph, a felt basket with a fox on it, fox notecards. Alison now sees foxes wherever she goes; like the characters in Maybe a Fox, she considers them good luck.

Maybe a Fox is so much a part of our hearts and souls at this point that we privately admit to each other we have no idea if it’s any good or not; it just is. We do know that we still, each of us, cry when we read the ending. Just like Jules and Sylvie in Maybe a Fox, we consider ourselves sisters. Sister Kathi, Sister Alison. Our book is made out of wonder and longing and struggle and love. We hope it finds a good place in the world.

About the Author:

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. She has two grown children and lives in College Station, Texas, with her husband. Visit her at KathiAppelt.com.

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Book Description ATHENEUM BOOKS, 2017. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book. Worlds collide in a spectacular way when Newbery and National Book Award finalist Kathi Appelt and Pulitzer Prize nominee and #1 New York Times bestseller Alison McGhee team up to create a fantastical, heartbreaking, and gorgeous tale about two sisters, a fox cub, and what happens when one of the sisters disappears forever. Sylvie and Jules, Jules and Sylvie. Better than just sisters, more than best friends, they d be identical twins if only they d been born in the same year. And if only Sylvie wasn t such a fast--faster than fast--runner. But Sylvie is too fast, and when she runs to the river they re not supposed to go anywhere near to throw a wish rock just before the school bus comes on a snowy morning, she runs so fast that no one sees what happens.and no one ever sees her again. Jules is devastated, but she refuses to believe what all the others believe, that--like their mother--her sister is gone forever. At the very same time, in the shadow world, a shadow fox is born--half of the spirit world, half of the animal world. She too is fast--faster than fast--and she senses danger. She s too young to know exactly what she senses, but she knows something is very wrong. And when Jules believes one last wish rock for Sylvie needs to be thrown into the river, the human and shadow worlds collide. Writing in alternate voices--one Jules s, the other the fox s--Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee tell the searingly beautiful tale of one small family s moment of heartbreak, a moment that unfolds into one that is epic, mythic, shimmering, and most of all, hopeful. Bookseller Inventory # ABZ9781442482432

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Book Description ATHENEUM BOOKS, 2017. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book. Worlds collide in a spectacular way when Newbery and National Book Award finalist Kathi Appelt and Pulitzer Prize nominee and #1 New York Times bestseller Alison McGhee team up to create a fantastical, heartbreaking, and gorgeous tale about two sisters, a fox cub, and what happens when one of the sisters disappears forever. Sylvie and Jules, Jules and Sylvie. Better than just sisters, more than best friends, they d be identical twins if only they d been born in the same year. And if only Sylvie wasn t such a fast--faster than fast--runner. But Sylvie is too fast, and when she runs to the river they re not supposed to go anywhere near to throw a wish rock just before the school bus comes on a snowy morning, she runs so fast that no one sees what happens.and no one ever sees her again. Jules is devastated, but she refuses to believe what all the others believe, that--like their mother--her sister is gone forever. At the very same time, in the shadow world, a shadow fox is born--half of the spirit world, half of the animal world. She too is fast--faster than fast--and she senses danger. She s too young to know exactly what she senses, but she knows something is very wrong. And when Jules believes one last wish rock for Sylvie needs to be thrown into the river, the human and shadow worlds collide. Writing in alternate voices--one Jules s, the other the fox s--Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee tell the searingly beautiful tale of one small family s moment of heartbreak, a moment that unfolds into one that is epic, mythic, shimmering, and most of all, hopeful. Bookseller Inventory # ABZ9781442482432

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