The Wishing Foxes
About the Author

Born and raised in southern Indiana, Margaret Read MacDonald loves this Appalachian folktale. A folklorist and former children's librarian, she now spends her time traveling the world telling tales in such fascinating spots as Maha Sarakham, Thailand; Kota Kinabula, Malaysia; and Medellin, Colombia. Her folktale picture books have earned numerous awards, including Parenting magazine’s Reading Magic Award, the American Folklore Society’s Aesop Accolade, Anne Izard Storyteller’s Choice Award, and Parents’ Choice Award.

Kitty Harvill


Kitty Harvill, a native of Clarksville, Tennessee, holds dual residency in the United States and Brazil. Her work is included in corporate, museum, and private collections in the U.S., Brazil, Germany, and Singapore. She has illustrated several children’s picture books, including Sitting Down to Eat by Bill Harley, which was named an American Bookseller Pick of the List, a Notable Social Studies Trade Book by the National Council of Social Studies, and included in Newsweek’s Best Kids’ Books of the Year. Her collaboration with Darcy Pattison, Abayomi, was named an Outstanding Science Trade Book by the National Science Teachers' Association.

Hardback ISBN 978-1-945268-01-4 $ 16.99

Release Date: April 2017

32 pages ● 8.5 x 11”
Full color throughout
Interest Level: Grades PreK-3 (age 3-8)
Reading Level: Grades 1-3 (ages 6-8)
Lexile Level: 500L
ATOS Reading Level 3.0
ATOS Interest Level: LG
BISAC Subjects: JUV012030; JUV012020

Spotted in the wild: Kindness as an endangered species

In this Appalachian version of “The Kind and the Unkind Girls,” two sisters—Bess and Tess—are sent by their mother to draw water from the Well-at-the-End-of-the-World. Along the way they meet a bear, a mountain lion, a wild boar, and three little foxes. When Bess greets them with courtesy and respect, the foxes reward her kindness. Tess, greedy for her own bounty, can’t be bothered with manners; she bonks the animals with her bucket, kicks them with her boots, and slings the little foxes to the ground. In the end, both sisters get their just deserts.

With a storyteller's cadence, Margaret Read MacDonald captures the tale’s mountain rhythms, homespun wisdom, and timeless truth. Kitty Harvill’s vibrant illustrations, rendered in watercolor and cut-paper collage, capture the interplay and mountain terrain that has shaped this unique version of a universal tale.

"Told with a storyteller's flair and well suited to reading aloud."--School Library Journal

"When kindly Bess is sent to fetch water from the Well-at-the-End-of-World, she politely greets the bear, mountain lion, wild boar, and three foxes she meets along the way, even washing the foxes’ faces as they request. In return they reward her. But when her ill-tempered sister, Tess, is sent, she behaves rudely; her repayment is quite different. Modern listeners may wonder if not having to go for water might not be a reward rather than a punishment, but the traditional tale is told smoothly and effectively, with a lively, folksy lilt. MacDonald and the Whitmans provide a clear explanation of their sources; they even suggest a tune for those reading aloud to use to sing Bess’ and Tess’ refrains.The text is set directly on Harvill’s stylized illustrations, mostly double-page spreads done with watercolor and cut-paper collage that use page turns effectively and show well. The animals’ facial expressions and body language reflect their reactions. Endpapers with diamonds, gold coins, toads, and kernels of corn reflect the consequences of the girls’ behavior. MacDonald and the Whitmans previously collaborated on Teaching with Story (2013). Welcome wherever folk tales are popular." (Picture book/folk tale. 4-8) --Kirkus Reviews

"The Wishing Foxes" is unreservedly recommended for family, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections." --Children's Bookwatch

Lesson Plan Available