Dick King-Smith served in the Grenadier Guards during the Second World War, and afterwards spent twenty years as a farmer in Gloucestershire, the county of his birth. Many of his stories are inspired by his farming experiences. Later he taught at a village primary school. His first book, The Fox Busters, was published in 1978. He wrote a great number of children's books, including The Sheep-Pig (winner of the Guardian Award and filmed as Babe), Harry's Mad, Noah's Brother, The Hodgeheg, Martin's Mice, Ace, The Cuckoo Child and Harriet's Hare (winner of the Children's Book Award in 1995). At the British Book Awards in 1991 he was voted Children's Author of the Year. In 2009 he was made OBE for services to children's literature. Dick King-Smith died in 2011 at the age of eighty-eight.
Gr 3 Up While four foxes plan and train for the ultimate chicken raid at Foxearth Farm, the ``fox busters''three chicks who have fully developed flight feathers and unusual aerial abilitiescondition themselves to end forever the plague of foxes on the farm. All of this comes together in the final confrontationa battle to the death, with suspense, pathos, and absurdity intermingled. All of this is told in King-Smith's very British accent, with heavy emphasis on polysyllabic adjectives and long descriptive flourishes. The humor here is in the similarities of the birds and animals to various human stereotypes, including the cliches and catchwords of their Hennish and Vulpine languages. The foxes are villains throughout, anthropomorphized from natural carnivores into very deliberate predators, so that few readers will regret their final demise. However, even the most dedicated fans of animal fantasy may have trouble accepting a trio of chickens with the foresight to hardboil their eggs into deadly missiles by exposing themselves to increasingly higher temperatures before the eggs are laid, plus the perseverance to perfect their aim while laying eggs in mid-flight. The final battle is tense and tragic as well as triumphant, with touches of the absurd. Unusual subject matter plus the difficult reading level will limit this book's appeal. Susan L. Rogers, Chestnut Hill Academy, Pa.
With the farmyard setting and animal characters of which he writes so masterfully, King-Smith once again creates an outstanding fantasy. The fox busters are three extraordinary pullets, whose heritage, upbringing and intelligence combine to make them attempt a daring plan. Their enemies, four smart poultry-loving foxes, have hatched a murderous plan of their own. While the odds seem to favor the carnivores, the chickens have discovered an ingenious way to harden their unlaid eggs and to use them as weapons. Suspenseful, engrossing, and so carefully structured as to render it entirely believable, the story is an ideal read-aloud, with something of interest for all ages. Illustrations not seen by PW. Ages 8-11. (Nov.)