The Fox on the Clifftop, by Linda Massola

Barney settled back in his chair to look at the boy. He was badly in need of a proper haircut and his knees were showing through his jeans. Still, they like to wear them that way these days, he reminded himself. He didn’t look too well fed either. Too many bones showing. The boy stood his ground. Something about him reminded Barney of the fox.

Old Barney lives by himself in a tumble-down cottage at the edge of a cliff. When three boys pay him a visit and graffiti his house, he is powerless to stop them. One of the boys, however, feels bad about what they have done and comes back to see Barney. The pair establish an unlikely, and at times uneasy, friendship. Perhaps Barney is not too old to make a difference to young Steve’s life.

The Fox on the Clifftop is a title in the chapter book series, Breakers, from Macmillan Education. This title is aimed at students with a reading age of around 9 years, but some primary aged students may find the issues of both the street kids and the war veteran a little hard to grasp. Despite that, the story does have a nice combination of action and issue and young readers will enjoy the role of the wild fox that interracts with both characters.

The Fox on the Clifftop could be a good offering for older students with reading difficulties.

The Fox on the Clifftop, by Linda Massola
Macmillan Education, 2003