Ferdinand Fox's First Summer

School Library Journal Reviews - August 2013

"Ferdinand is a red fox kit who begins life in a den with his brothers and sisters. Readers observe him and his siblings getting milk from their mother and, as they grow, waiting for her to bring them food. Also discussesd are foxes' keen senses and how meaningful play teaches them to thrive in the wild. The story, which takes readers through the course of a year, concludes with Ferdinand's gradual approach to independence as he must hunt on his own. Each spread includes a large, engaging photo and a paragraph or two of text. The book concludes with additional facts about red foxes and short activities about their life cycle and diets. No sources are listed. The brief text does not have much depth, but it is accurately touted as being a fun-to-read story and a launch pad for discussions and learning."

NSTA Recommends - May 2013

"An irresistible kit fox greets the reader on the cover of this book and draws one into the world of Ferdinand and his family of red fox. Facts about the kit fox's life cycle, adaptations, and food preferences abound in this exquisite, photographic journey through the first year of life."

Kirkus Reviews - January 2013

"Ferdinand and his siblings explore the world with their senses, putting new things in their mouths to taste and feel. They point their ears toward sounds and explore their incredible sense of smell. The kits practice pouncing on prey by jumping on each other and play fight to learn defenses. By the end of the summer, Ferdinand is putting all these things to use to find his own food, and next spring, his own kits will be learning the same lessons..."

Midwest Book Review - July 2013

"Ferdinand Fox's First Summer" is a fantastic color photo-journal of the first several months of a young red fox's life in North America. Ferdinand is one of three fox kits born in early spring, living in a den with his siblings and being nursed on his mother's milk for the first 5 weeks of life. Gradually he begins to explore outside and learn to use his senses and interactions with his environment to develop and sharpen survival skills. Ferdinand is both funny and heroic in some of his daily adventures. Many fascinating facts about foxes' growth and survival are written into the narrative accompanying the photo journal of Ferdinand's maturation. Written for children age 8 and up, "Ferdinand Fox's First Summer" includes a reference to book links for further cross-curricular teaching activities, quizzes, and more as well as three sections titled Red Fox Fun Facts and Adaptations, Red Fox Life Cycle Sequencing, and What Do Red Foxes Eat? "Ferdinand Fox's First Summer" is available in hardcover, paperback Spanish and English, and eBook Downloadable English and Spanish. It is part of a Sylvan Dell nature educational series of titles.

Library Media Connection - August 2013

Close-up color photographs follow the first months in the life of a red fox. A single paragraph per page makes the text suitable for the young reader. Children will find the in-depth descriptions of family, food, and learning experiences for survival interesting. There are several comparisons to human babies. A sheet of fax and and a page of two fox activities accompany the text. More free activities are available online at the publisher's website.
- Susan Boatwright, Teacher-Librarian, Prairie Crest Elementary, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Horn Book Guide - October 2013

"This book chronicles the development of a red fox from birth through the first few months of life. Close-up color photographs illustrate how fox kits interact with their mother, their littermates, and their environment."

Librarian Review - March 2017

"Very cute, educational story about foxes. The information is distributed at a nice ace throughout the book so children can digest information slowly without getting overwhelmed. The photography is brilliant. I will be recommending."

Heck of a Bunch - March 2013

"A book with a realistic look at how a young fox grows up during the first months of his life, Ferdinand Fox's First Summer is informative and interesting.  Children will learn how a fox hunts its prey, leaves its scent trail, and nurses from its mother.  There's a couple of pictures that show the fox with prey in its mouth but they're not real graphic.  After the story is a "For Creative Minds' section in the back of the book to further enhance learning. It includes 'Red Fox Fun Facts and Adaptations', 'Red Fox Life Cycle Sequencing', and 'What Do Red Foxes Eat?'.  I learned a few new things about red foxes myself.  For instance, I was educated that their blue eyes turn brown when they are about two months old."

Feathered Quill Book Reviews - March 2013

"This is a fun look at Ferdinand, a fox kit, and how he starts his life. The layout of the book is in the form of a photo journal of Ferdinand’s entire summer. The full-page, full-color photographs give an exciting look into the life of young kits from the time they emerge from the den to the end of the summer when they are capable of hunting on their own. Newly independent readers can tackle this beginning nonfiction book with a bit of assistance with unusual words such as “pounce.” In the back of the book are several activities that can be downloaded and printed from the publisher’s website. This would be an excellent book to read and discuss in the homeschool or classroom setting."

"If you have young students in your classroom who are interested in learning and wildlife, Ferdinand would be more than happy to tell them about his family!"

Reading Today Online - April 2013

Nature photographer Mary Holland has captured the first few months in the life of a young fox through her camera. Mary named him Ferdinand, and young readers will follow this young kit and his four brothers and sisters from the underground den where they were born to the world of the forest and their lessons in how to survive. Double page photographs on every page give a close-up feel as readers observe how these young kits use their senses to learn about their environment. The kits’ playful antics are also captured in these beautiful nature photographs. Not a detailed introduction but one for early learners, the information about Ferdinand Fox is told as a nonfiction narrative easily understood by primary age students. Teachers will find a detailed lesson guide at the publisher’s website. Learn more about the author, her photography and the background for this book at her blog and website


VT Kids - June 2013

Ferdinand Fox's First Summer, by award-winning Vermont author Mary Holland, isn't your average picture book. Holland, a naturalist, spent countless hours in the woods observing a family of red foxes, and she snapped the photographs that illustrate the story. Detailed close-ups of these fuzzy, inquisitive animals complement her short nonfiction tale, which follows the life of one small kit named Ferdinand. Young readers can relate as they see Ferdinand run, play and get into trouble. As time passes, he leaves the den and learns to hunt. After all, foxes grow up fast

Eclectic Homeschool Online - April 2013

Ferdinand Fox may be the smallest in his litter, but he's just as feisty as all the rest of his siblings, whether it's pushing his way in to nurse, or pouncing on his brother. Beautiful photographs and simple, straightforward text tell the story of his first few months of life, from his beginnings in a dark, underground den, through days of learning and play, until the end of summer where he's grown enough to catch his own prey.

Reader's Haven Reviews - May 2013

All children love baby animals and this book is no exception.  The pictures are large and cute, making them fun to look at.  The author presents interesting details in an easy to read fashion.  Teacher helps at the end of the book enhance learning about the life cycle of the red fox.

A Wrung Sponge - May 2013

This charming book is packed with gorgeous close-up photographs of a fox kit in his first summer. Holland is a nature photographer and environmental educator doing a fine job of introducing children and adults to the secret lives of foxes.

So Cal City Kids - June 2013

My son and I received this book and loved watching Ferdinand’s journey. We also found the For Creative Minds section of the book interesting and fun to read! A wonderful book for the whole family!

Learning Table Reviews - June 2013

With beautiful full-page photographs, author Mary Holland has captured fascinating moments in the life of Ferdinand.  From nursing to playing, exploring, and hunting, Ferdinand and his brothers and sisters are captured on film so that readers will feel as if they are looking through binoculars themselves.  The text explains each scene in detail, and Ferdinand Fox's First Summer is an interesting nature study in itself.  The font is large and the text on each page is brief, so this book will appeal to the youngest of readers; however, the pictures and details grabbed even my teen's attention, so this book is definitely appropriate for all ages.

Amy O'Quinn - July 2013

I really like the close-up detailed photographs by Ms. Holland, and I must admit that I found the baby fox to be quite precious! But I also discovered a lot about foxes and their habits in this informational and interesting journal—things I never knew before.

5th Grade Reading - July 2013

The photos will draw you in. A fox kit, that is a baby fox, has to be one of the cutest animals on Earth. In this picture essay, we follow a baby fox, named Ferdinand, through the spring and summer romps — including playing with siblings, and foraging for food. The writing is good, but it is really the pictures that will turn the pages. We see Ferdinand start as a ball of fluff and progress to a competent young fox, ready to hunt on his own and wrestle his meal to the ground.

The subject matter will appeal to young readers, but the writing is a little high for them. I’m sure the lexile system blanched at the three-syllable name. However, Mary Holland also wrote in long sentences, some with multiple clauses. While this will work when the book is read aloud, as a book for newly independent readers it may be challenging. At the same time, it will be a lovely choice for young children who are advanced readers in younger grades, and as well as a good read-at-your-desk book for kids in fifth and sixth grade.

Besides following young Ferdinand, we learn the growth pattern of foxes and why their ears, nose, whiskers, etc. are important. Holland easily mixes information about the specific fox named Ferdinand and the more general information about foxes. She writes carefully about their motivation, and does not anthropomorphize (with the obvious exception of the name Ferdinand). The foxes’ motives are attributed to basic needs, such as hunger and warmth. At the same time, the images present us with a playful kit who has joy rippling through his body. Mary Holland doesn’t say Ferdinand is happy, his picture, however does.

Bergers Book Review - August 2013

Through beautiful accompanying photographs, we see how Ferdinand is cared for by his parents and learns to fend for himself. A fox’s diet and daily habits are also explained, as well as the importance of his senses of smell and hearing. A classroom guide is provided for further discussion.

Foxes are magnificent creatures, and these wonderful photos capture their antics close-up. Kids will not only learn about how foxes survive in the wild, but will also come to appreciate their beauty and grace. I highly recommend Ferdinand Fox’s First Summer for all children and nature lovers.