Fantastic Mr Fox is a children's novel written by British author Roald Dahl. It was published in 1970 by George Allen & Unwin in the UK and Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S., with illustrations by Donald Chaffin. The book was later published with new illustrations by Jill Bennett, Tony Ross and Quentin Blake. The story is about Mr Fox and how he outwits his farmer neighbours to steal their food from right under their noses.
This story is about a fox named Mr Fox. In order to feed his family, Mr Fox steals chickens, ducks, and turkeys, each night from three mean and wealthy farmers: Boggis, Bunce, and Bean. The farmers are fed up with Mr Fox's theft and try to kill him. One night, the farmers wait outside Mr Fox's foxhole in an attempt to ambush him. When Mr Fox emerges from his home, the farmers fire at him. However, the farmers only succeed in blowing off Mr Fox's tail.
Determined to catch him, the farmers use spades and shovels to dig their way into the foxes' home. However, Mr and Mrs Fox and their four children escape by digging a tunnel deeper into the ground. The farmers then use bulldozers in order to dig deeper into the ground, but to no avail.
The three men therefore decide to watch the entrance to the fox tunnel with shotguns at the ready, while the farmers' men patrol the area to make sure the foxes do not escape.
After three days of starving, Mr Fox comes up with a plan. He and his children dig a tunnel into Boggis' chicken house. There, they steal some chickens and depart without leaving any sign of their presence. They also raid Bunce's storehouse of ducks, geese and vegetables as well as Bean's underground cellar of cider.
Along the way, the foxes meet Badger and other digging animals who are also starving due to the farmers' siege of the hillside. Mr Fox, feeling responsible for the whole affair, invites the other animals to a feast made from the loot. At the feast, the animals decide to make an underground town where they will be safe, while discreetly obtaining food from the farmers.
Meanwhile, Boggis, Bunce, and Bean keep guard on the tunnel entrance in pouring rain, unaware that Mr Fox and his friends are stealing their food right under their noses. The book ends with the indication the three will be waiting forever.
In the book, local children sing the following verse (a limerick) to taunt the three farmers:
Boggis and Bunce and Bean
One fat, one short, one lean
These horrible crooks
So different in looks
Were nonetheless equally mean.
The book has been adapted into a film by director Wes Anderson. It was made using stop-motion animation and features the voices of George Clooney as Mr. Fox, Meryl Streep as Mrs. Fox, Bill Murray as Badger, and Michael Gambon as Franklin Bean. The movie adds scenes before Mr. Fox attacks the three farmers and after their bulldozing of the hill, as well as a slightly altered ending and a more fleshed-out plot about Mr. Fox's past life as a thief.
The book was adapted into a play of the same name by David Wood and was first performed at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry in 2001. The play is licensed (in UK only) through Casarotto Ramsay Ltd. for repertory performances and Samuel French Ltd. for amateur performances.
Tobias Picker adapted the book into an opera (the only adaptation with origins in the USA) which had its world premiere at the Los Angeles Opera performing December 9–22 in 1998. the Opera starred Gerald Finley as Mr. Fox and Suzanna Guzman as Mrs. Fox. A specially commissioned new version of this opera by Opera Holland Park will be performed in the beautiful gardens and natural scenery of Holland Park in the summer of 2010 staged by Stephen Barlow (director). This version starred Grant Doyle as Mr. Fox, Olivia Ray as Mrs. Fox, Henry Grant Kerswell, Peter Kent and John Lofthouse as Farmers Boggis, Bunce and Bean.
- ↑ Dwyer, Judy (2001) Roald Dahl p.6
- ↑ Melanie Axel-Lute (2001). Quotation index to children's literature. p.36. Libraries Unlimited, 2001
- ↑ Fantastic Mr Fox - Adapted for the stage by David Wood