Fantastic Mr Fox
First edition cover
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 first UK Puffin paperback, first issued in 1974, featured illustrations by Jill Bennett. Later editions have featured illustrations by Tony Ross (1988) and Quentin Blake (1996). The story is about Mr Fox and how he outwits his farmer neighbours to steal their food from right under their noses. In 2009, it was adapted into a film by Wes Anderson.
Two audio readings were released, one with the author narrating (ISBN 0-060-53627-6) and another with Martin Jarvis narrating (ISBN 0-141-80787-3).
The story revolves around an anthropomorphic, tricky, clever fox named Mr Fox who lives underground beside a tree with his wife and four children. In order to feed his family, he makes nightly visits to farms owned by three wicked, cruel and dim-witted farmers named Boggis, Bunce and Bean and snatches the livestock available on each man's farm. Tired of being outsmarted by Mr Fox, the evil farmers devise a plan to ambush him as he leaves his hole, but they succeed only in shooting off his tail.
The farmers then dig up the Foxes' burrow using spades and then excavators. The Foxes manage to escape by burrowing further beneath the earth to safety. The trio of farmers are ridiculed for their persistence, so they decide to surround Mr Fox's hole and wait until he is hungry enough to come out. Cornered by their enemies, Mr Fox and his family, and all the other underground creatures, begin to starve.
Mr Fox devises a plot to acquire food. He and his children tunnel through the ground and wind up burrowing to one of Boggis' hen and chicken houses. Mr Fox kills several chickens and sends his eldest son to carry the food back home to Mrs Fox. On the way to their next destination, Mr Fox runs into his friend Badger and asks him to accompany him on his mission. Aided by Badger, the animals tunnel to Bunce's farm for ducks, geese, hams, bacon and vegetables, and then to Bean's cider cellar. Here,they are nearly caught by the Beans' servant Mabel, but have a narrow escape. They carry their loot back home, where Mrs Fox has prepared a great celebratory banquet for the starving underground animals and their families. At the table, Mr Fox invites everyone to live in a secret underground neighbourhood with him and his family, where he will hunt for them daily and none of them will any longer need to worry about the farmers. Everyone joyfully cheers for this idea, while Boggis, Bunce, and Bean are left waiting for the fox to emerge from his hole. The author concludes "And so far as I know, they are still waiting."
In 1994 Fantastic Mr Fox was awarded the Read Aloud BILBY Award.
The book was adapted into a film by director Wes Anderson. It was released in 2009 and features the voices of George Clooney as Mr Fox, Meryl Streep as Mrs Fox, Bill Murray as Badger, Hugo Guinness as Bunce, and Michael Gambon as Bean. The movie's plot focuses more on Mr Fox's relationship to Mrs. Fox and his son, which is pitted against Mr. Fox's desire to steal chickens as a means of feeling like his natural self. 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 more background on Mr Fox's past life as a thief of food. The Fox's three children are replaced by Ash, a small and insecure fox who seeks his father's approval, and Mr Fox's nephew Kristofferson, who excels in athletics and is a source of jealousy for Ash.
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.
A musical adaptation of the book will begin at the Nuffield Theatre in Southampton for Christmas 2016 before touring the UK in early 2017.
Tobias Picker adapted the book into an opera (the only adaptation with origins in the US) which had its world premiere at the Los Angeles Opera performing 9–22 December 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 was performed in the gardens and natural scenery of Holland Park in the summer of 2010 staged by Stephen Barlow. 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.
- "Previous Winners of the BILBY Awards: 1990 – 96" (PDF). CBCA – Qld Branch. The Children's Book Council of Australia, Queensland Branch. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
- "Fantastic Mr Fox – Adapted for the stage by David Wood". Davidwood.org.uk. Retrieved 2011-02-19.
- "Fantastic Mr Fox musical to premiere at Southampton's Nuffield | News | The Stage". The Stage. 2016-03-07. Retrieved 2016-10-22.
- "The Fantastic Mr Fox UK Tour". britishtheatre.com. Retrieved 2016-10-22.
- "Larmore, Domingo to Open L.A. Opera Season". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 30 May 2012
- "The Los Angeles Opera's Fantastic Mr Fox". The Telegraph. Retrieved 30 May 2012
- Fantastic Mr. Fox at Holland Park Theatre. Time Out London. Retrieved 30 May 2012