Leila and the Blue Fox begins with Leila, a young teenager, catching a plane by herself to Tromso, Norway. Leila is going to see her mother, Amani, who she hasn’t seen for six years. Amani is unable to meet her at the airport due to her work commitments and sends her assistant, Liv, to collect Leila. This confirms Leila’s worst fear that her mother doesn’t want her. However, once reunited, her mother seems genuinely pleased to see Leila and offers to take her on a sea journey to continue tracking an Arctic fox, who the scientists have named Miso. Leila feels she hasn’t much choice and agrees. Liv and her daughter, Britt are also coming, along with Matty another research scientist. The work is important because animal behaviour is changing due to the impact of climate change on their habitat.
As the book progresses, we learn Leila and Amani’s, history. Leila was born in Syria where her mother worked as a meteorologist. Leila’s parents are separated. As a result of the civil war in Syria, Leila and Amani become refugees, along with Amani’s sister and daughter. The two families escape the violence and settle in Croydon, England. Amani soon accepts the job in Tromso. Amani leaves Leila with her aunt and cousin who provide a loving home for her. The story touches on the trauma that refugees experience and the complicated issue of border control. Yet these contentious subjects are only considered from Leila’s immature perspective.
The sea voyage is an adventure that shows Leila the beauty and dangers of life in the Arctic Circle. She learns about the work her mother and the other scientists do. Leila shares her marketing skills on social media and helps the team by building up their following and attracting more funding.
Kiran Millwood Hargrave writes a good story and interspersed throughout is Miso’s own story told with a minimum of words and drawings by Tom de Freston which is a lovely addition.
Overall, an insightful adventure into the Arctic Circle, that touches on many political and relational issues.
Thanks to the Book Curator for providing a free copy for review.
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