Review: Leila and the Blue Fox - Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Genre: Middle-Grade Contemporary Published: Orion Children's Books, October 13th 2022
My Rating: 5/5 stars
Around this time last year, I had the pleasure of reviewing Julia and the Shark; the first collaborative efford of Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Tom de Freston. It combined Kiran’s powerful storytelling with Tom’s beautiful monochromatic illustrations with a single accent colour to create one of the best and most memorable middle-grade novels I’ve read recently. I remember thinking; I wouldn’t mind if the would make this a “brand”. Well, my wish was answered with this spiritual sequel, about to release on October 13th.
Leila and the Blue Fox is a complete standalone story, but takes all the elements that made Julia so great, and builts upon it. Again, we have a layered tale of a young protagonist dealing with a tough personal situation at home, parallelled with a story of our natural world and one of the endangered animals within it. Again, we have stunning (equally layered) illustrations with the single accent-colour, to bring the story and atmosphere to life. And again; all these elements together add up to more than the sum of its parts, and make an impactful story about a potentially difficult topic approachable to young readers and adults alike. This time, instead of themes of mental health like in Julia’s story, Leila takes on migration; both natural- and human alike.
Like Julia’s, Leila’s story begins with a scientist mother chasing the endangered animal she studies, and a daughter chasing after the connection with her mother she feels she’s losing. Leila joins along with her mother Amani on an arctic expedition following the extraordinary migration of a polar fox across well over 2000 miles. A grueling track made out of necessity for this brave little fox to survive after its home was destroyed by climat change. On a ship on the arctic seas, Leila gets the chance to spend more time with her workaholic mother, and get to know sides of her she never saw. That includes the conversations this little fox’ journey brings up; stories of a similar one Leila and Amani undertook when Leila was only a baby. One away from a war-torn country, in search of a new and safer home…
Leila and the Blue Fox is an easy recommendation for me; if you’ve read and loved Julia and the Shark, you’ll be sure to love Leila’s story aswell. If you haven’t read Julia yet, but enjoy the same brand of hard-hitting middle-grade that transcends age-range as I do; I guess you have two beautiful books to add to your TBR instead of one.
Many thanks to Orion for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. I cannot wait to get my hands on the finished product, as I can only imagine how beautiful this book is going to be visually in it's final form.
Add this book to your TBR here on Goodreads.