The Big Bad Fox: hilarious tale of predators, parenting, and poultry

Benjamin Renner’s hit French comic The Big Bad Fox isn’t just being adapted as an animated feature, it’s also now available in English, thanks to the good graces of Firstsecond, whose translation keeps and even enhances all the comic timing of the original.

In The Big Bad Fox, the titular fox is absolutely incapable of making it out of the barnyard with a chicken; they just kick his furry butt, and whatever’s left is dealt with by the farm’s taciturn, sleepy watchdog. But then the Big Bad Wolf hatches a plot: the fox should kidnap some eggs, raise them to chicken size, use them to hone his poultry-terrifying skills, then eat them all up.

At first, it all goes according to plan: the fox gets away clean and even manages to hatch the chicks (he realizes belatedly that there is no way the wolf is going to help with the egg-sitting duties). But then the three newly hatched chicks imprint on the fox, call him Mama, and take enormous delight in playing games of “fox and chicks” and demanding bedtime stories about the noble fox and his ability to eat up chicks — the chicks reason that if Mama is a fox, then they must be foxes, too.

The ensuing tale pits the fox against the wolf’s voracious appetites and ruthless impatience, not to mention the farmyard’s militia of egg-recovery specialists and the enraged, militant, chicken commandos — and his maternal nature and the savagery of his chicks, who, thinking they are foxes, just can’t wait to get their teeth into a nice, plump chicken.

It’s an utterly charming, madcap, and hilarious story of parenting and poultry, with lovable characters and more wonderful moments than I can say. It was one of those books that I started with my daughter one bedtime only to come back the next morning and be told that she stayed up late and finished it — but she wanted me to keep reading it again (and so did I!).

The fox dreams of being the terror of the barnyard. But no one is intimidated by him, least of all the hens―when he picks a fight with one, he always ends up on the losing end. Even the wolf, the most fearsome beast of the forest, can’t teach him how to be a proper predator. It looks like the fox will have to spend the rest of his life eating turnips.

But then the wolf comes up with the perfect scheme. If the fox steals some eggs, he could hatch the chicks himself and raise them to be a plump, juicy chicken dinner. Unfortunately, this plan falls apart when three adorable chicks hatch and call the fox Mommy.

Beautifully rendered in watercolor by Benjamin Renner, The Big Bad Fox is a hilarious and surprisingly tender parable about parenthood that’s sure to be a hit with new parents (and their kids too).

The Big Bad Fox [Benjamin Renner/Firstsecond]

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