There are journals for writing in and then there are journals you look at and wonder how do I dare and besmirch this volume’s pages with my trivia? Fortunately, or unfortunately, Anne Louise Avery‘s new publication, distributed by The University of Chicago Press in North America, A Fox For All Seasons Journal, is one of those latter rare creatures.
Of course this book will be of even more significance to those who have read Avery’s retellings of the infamous Raynard the Fox. A direct descendant of Aesop’s story of the mischievous fox, Raynard’s trickster tales take place in the Low Countries – the areas we now refer to as Holland, Belgium and parts of Germany – in Medieval Europe. Here he survives on his wits and wiles, and his ability to take advantage of his fellow creatures’ weakness of character.
Like all good tricksters his lessons seem cruel and harsh, but they also show us the error of our ways. If you come away from an encounter with Raynard without increasing your self-awareness than you are really quite thick.
While this little tome is a journal for its owner to keep track of their own thoughts, scattered throughout are some small Raynard tales. These unexpected delights show up periodically in the form of stories Raynard is telling his beloved kits as bedtime stories.
Some are taken from his own, or the immediate families’, adventures either as examples of their trickery or warnings of how even a trickster can be tricked. Others are taken from ancient history and recount the stories of their distant ancestors. While readers might be familiar with the story of the Fox and the Raven from Aesop, Avery’s retelling makes it feel new all over again.
Of course this journal is primarily for you to write stories of your own. Its size, small enough to fit into a large pocket or slip into any convenient carryall, means it can accompany you on any journey and be easily at hand if and when the muse strikes. However, it’s not too small – thus ensuring you don’t have to worry about cramping your hand by writing in minute mouse script.
A beautiful hardcover, with the handsome face of whom we can only assume is Raynard staring out at us from its front, and intricate maps of the Low Countries serving as end papers, this lovely little lined journal is simply a pleasure to pick up and hold in your hands. For the fox in all of us, it is sure to inspire and delight.