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The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith

By February 16, 2020December 15th, 20235 Comments

“Star would light the way for fox as he foraged for beetles and ran wild in the tangled thorns.”

The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith


From the award-winning designer of the iconic Penguin Hardcover Classics comes a beautifully illustrated fable about loss, friendship, and courage

The Fox and the Star is the story of a friendship between a lonely Fox and the Star who guides him through the frightfully dark forest. Illuminated by Star’s rays, Fox forages for food, runs with the rabbits, and dances in the rain—until Star suddenly goes out and life changes, leaving Fox huddling for warmth in the unfamiliar dark. To find his missing Star, Fox must embark on a wondrous journey beyond the world he knows—a journey lit by courage, newfound friends, and just maybe, a star-filled new sky. 

Inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement and the art of William Blake, The Fox and the Star is a heartwarming, hopeful tale which comes alive through Bickford-Smith’s beloved illustrations, guiding readers both young and grown to “look up beyond your ears.”


  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Hardcover 
  • 64 pages
  • Published November 10th, 2015 by Penguin Books (first published August 27th, 2015)
  • Original Title The Fox and the Star
  • ISBN0143108670 (ISBN13: 9780143108672)
  • Edition Language English
  • Literary Awards Waterstones Book of the Year (2015)

My Thoughts

Never mistake a children’s book for something simple. There is a story I heard once about a famous chef and how he hired his sous chefs. He asked them to simply, “Cook me one egg.” One egg. When paired down, cooking a single egg is the synthesis of multitudes of culinary skills. You either know your stuff, or you don’t. The same is true for the creation of a beautiful children’s novel. It is the synthesis of timing, pacing, language, character building, protagonist, antagonist, and the language of pictures. All in a small package paired down for the mind of a child. It is an amazing thing if done well, and well-crafted children’s books, generationally, stand the test of time. I myself found a great bit of joy in “There is a Monster at the end of This Book” when I was a child. That book was written in 1971. I was reading it to my four-year-old daughter yesterday. There is nothing dated about it. Literally, three generations of mothers/fathers could have read it to their children and those children were equally excited by it. This is an effective children’s book.

The Fox and the Star is an effective children’s book. 

It does not have the longevity yet, but a story like this will be around in thirty years. For one, this book is profoundly beautiful. I don’t say that lightly.

Bickford-Smith took what a normal children’s book feels and looks like and turned it into a palace for her story. The cover is dark midnight colored woven cloth inked with an arts and crafts style illustration of a twisting winding web of thorns and a fox. The interior pages are as illustrative – simple in line work, but profoundly well done. The images themselves, delicate and beautiful, feel almost fierce. It feels as if the fox is about to leap off the pages at you, or you are about to catch your shirtsleeve on a thorn.

The story is about a fox that misses his star. His one star in a sky of multitudes that belongs to him and he to it. The fox journeys through time, weather, and loneliness to find his star even when all he has to do is look up. At the conclusion and what really is the beginning of foxes journey, he finds that in the sky there are many lovely stars, but none of them belong to him. It gives him hope for the future because “he knew that somewhere out there was a star that once was a star that was his” and “beneath the blazing sky of the stars, Fox made his way through the forest.”

It takes a lot of skill and finesse to make something both easily understandable and profoundly beautiful. Bickford-Smith’s books are both. This book is no exception. The writing is superb and the story brought a tear to my eye. It is truly a beautiful read.


I checked this out from the library.

About the Author

Coralie Bickford-Smith graduated from Reading University after studying Typography and Graphic Communication and currently works in-house at Penguin Books. Coralie’s book covers have been recognized by the AIGA (NY) and D&AD (UK) and have featured in numerous international magazines and newspapers including The New York Times, Vogue and The Guardian. Her work with Penguin Classics on the clothbound series attracted worldwide attention and harks back to the world of Victorian bindings and a golden age of bookbinding.


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