I read this story with a first class and they loved it. It was perfect for this age group. The story revolves around Mr. Fox’s occupation as a “tailer,” creating tails for various animals according to strict rules and regulations regarding size and type for specific occasions.
At first, Mr. Fox is dismissive of his son Rory’s fresh ideas that deviate from traditional tail-making. However, his perspective changes when a customer sees one of Rory’s innovative tails and becomes captivated by it. This newfound interest prompts Mr. Fox to reconsider his initial resistance and recognise the value in his son’s ideas.
The book served as an excellent catalyst for an integrated unit of learning. The captivating illustrations not only delighted the children but also prompted meaningful discussions comparing the past and present, especially the street scene on the first two pages. They also enjoyed the humour in the pictures, such as one scene showing Rory attempting to measure various animals for their tails, which sparked a lively discussion on how someone could possibly measure a giraffe!
To foster creativity and descriptive writing skills, the class engaged in an activity where they imagined and designed their own unique tails, reflecting their individual personalities. They explored descriptive language to characterize the shape, size, texture, colors, and materials that could be used for their tails. This exercise enriched their vocabulary and encouraged imaginative expression.
To integrate the story with art, the students brought their ideas to life by crafting their tails using a variety of materials, including felt, feathers, glitter, tinsel, fabric, pompoms, and even items like random Christmas decorations. This artistic process allowed them to showcase their creativity and individuality just like Rory did in the story.
During our concluding reflection on the story, the children shared their favorite aspects of the book. While the illustrations, colours, and humour were all mentioned, the majority of the children expressed how much they liked the father-son relationship portrayed in the story. They particularly enjoyed witnessing the triumph of the son’s creativity in the end.
Karen Doyle & 1st class, Scoil Mhuire, Dublin 18