August 20 – 31, 2021Vol. 23, No. 11

Mystery of the Missing Fox

by Martha F. Barkley

Local author Tamra Wight lives in Portland. The Poland Spring Campground has been her family business for 25 years. Along with her husband and two kids, the author shares a lot of fox encounters in this young adult novel, Mystery of the Missing Fox.

I bought her fox story because we have had kits, baby foxes, raised under our garage up by the horse field for over two decades. We have had sightings by the plumber opening our camp in May and by the painter who shoveled horse droppings recently near the garage.

Massachusetts resident Carl DiRocco illustrates this book and all the Cooper and Packrat series: loons in Mystery on Pine Lake, Mystery of the Eagle's Nest, and Mystery of the Bear Cub, etc. Graduate of the New England School of the Arts, Carl enjoys camping with his wife and three boys.

Each chapter begins with fox facts. Chapter 29 caught my eye: "Fox hunting with dogs was a popular sport in the United States during the late 1920s and early 1930s; almost five thousand foxes were captured each year in Maine alone during that time."

The adventures of opening the campground in the spring are captivating because every camp requires work, much more than our individual home on Great Pond. It is amazing to read about the son in the family trying to make up for his dad's absence while in the hospital after a tree branch injury. Meeting deadlines for customers is real.

The missing kits from the fox family and the missing cats from the cat lady are ongoing while the campground is being cleaned and set up for an early opening. The artist shows adorable fox family illustrations with an intriguing zip line from the water tower. No, not part of the campground offerings, but very much part of the adventure.

A mysterious resident in a nearby hermit type home reveals unusual art. When water is dumped on an invader, this expletive follows: "Spew spittle spats!" Translation: "You little brats!" or something close to that.

The trail cam is used to record what is happening out there in the woods. Makes me wonder about doing this near our garage fox family home.

I can get eight hundred dollars apiece for [each kit] as pets…I wanted to…give them good homes.

Almost convincing, but returning the kits to their home in nature is how this story is resolved after many happenings which seem beyond belief, especially by mom and dad who run the campground. The final chapter is especially gratifying to read. Then a sample beginning of Mystery of the Bear Cub entices the reader on to the next adventure in the series.

Observing nature from the eye level of kids is Tamra's talent. Pick your animal and read the book for adventure and knowledge. I learned about foxes and their return to the same home each year to have their kits. Maybe someday I will have on-camera proof of a lot told in this tale of Mystery of the Missing Fox.