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Stone Fox

Stone Fox

4.5 274
by John Reynolds Gardiner

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Little Willy's Grandfather is sick, and it's up to Willy to save their farm from tax collectors. Their only hope is the prize money from the National Dogsled Race. But a lot of other people want to win the race, too, including Stone Fox, who has never lost a race in his life. Do Willy and his dog Searchlight stand a chance against the toughest racers around? Can they


Little Willy's Grandfather is sick, and it's up to Willy to save their farm from tax collectors. Their only hope is the prize money from the National Dogsled Race. But a lot of other people want to win the race, too, including Stone Fox, who has never lost a race in his life. Do Willy and his dog Searchlight stand a chance against the toughest racers around? Can they win the race to save the farm-and Grandfather-before it's too late?

Editorial Reviews

The New Yorker
“A superb piece of storytelling—without doubt the most exciting and moving book this season.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.11(w) x 8.11(h) x 1.11(d)
Age Range:
7 - 11 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


One day Grandfather wouldn't get out of bed. He just lay there and stared at the ceiling and looked sad.

At first little Willy thought he was playing.

Little Willy lived with his grandfather on a small potato farm in Wyoming. It was hard work living on a potato farm, but it was also a lot of fun. Especially when Grandfather felt like playing.

Like the time Grandfather dressed up as the scarecrow out in the garden. It took little Willy an hour to catch on. Boy, did they laugh. Grandfather laughed so hard he cried. And when he cried his beard filled up with tears.

Grandfather always got up real early in the morning. So early that it was still dark outside. He would make a fire. Then he would make breakfast and call little Willy. "Hurry up or you'll be eating with the chickens," he would say. Then he would throw his head back and laugh.

Once little Willy went back to sleep. When he woke up, he found his plate out in the chicken coop. It was picked clean. He never slept late again after that.

That is ... until this morning. For some reason Grandfather had forgotten to call him. That's when little Willy discovered that Grandfather was still in bed. There could be only one explanation. Grandfather was playing. It was another trick.

Or was it?

"Get up, Grandfather," little Willy said. "I don't want to play anymore."

But Grandfather didn't answer.

Little Willy ran out of the house.

A dog was sleeping on the front porch. "Come on, Searchlight!" little Willy cried out. The dog jumped to its feet and together they ran off down theroad.

Searchlight was a big black dog. She had a white spot on her forehead the size of a silver dollar. She was an old dog -- actually born on the same day as little Willy, which was over ten years ago.

A mile down the road they came to a small log cabin surrounded by tall trees. Doc Smith was sitting in a rocking chair under one of the trees, reading a book.

"Doc Smith," little Willy called out. He was out of breath. "Come quick."

"What seems to be the matter, Willy?" the doctor asked, continuing to read.

Doc Smith had snow white hair and wore a long black dress. Her skin was tan and her face was covered with wrinkles.

"Grandfather won't answer me," little Willy said.

"Probably just another trick," Doc Smith replied. "Nothing to worry about."

"But he's still in bed."

Doc Smith turned a page and continued to read. "How late did you two stay up last night?"

"We went to bed early, real early. No singing or music or anything."

Doc Smith stopped reading.

"Your grandfather went to bed without playing his harmonica?" she asked.

Little Willy nodded.

Doc Smith shut her book and stood up. "Hitch up Rex for me, Willy," she said. "I'll get my bag. "

Rex was Doc Smith's horse. He was a handsome palomino. Little Willy hitched Rex to the wagon, and then they rode back to Grandfather's farm. Searchlight ran on ahead, leading the way and barking. Searchlight enjoyed a good run.

Grandfather was just the same. He hadn't moved.

Searchlight put her big front paws up on the bed and rested her head on Grandfather's chest. She licked his beard, which was full of tears.

Doc Smith proceeded to examine Grandfather. She used just about everything in her little black bag.

"What's that for?" little Willy asked. "What are you doing now?"

"Must you ask so many questions?" Doc Smith said.

"Grandfather says it's good to ask questions."

Doc Smith pulled a long silver object from her doctor's bag.

"What's that for?" little Willy asked.

" Hush!

"Yes, ma'am. I'm sorry."

When Doc Smith had finished her examination, she put everything back into her little black bag. Then she walked over to the window and looked out at the field of potatoes.

After a moment she asked, "How's the crop this year, Willy?"

"Grandfather says it's the best ever."

Doc Smith rubbed her wrinkled face.

"What's wrong with him?" little Willy asked.

"Do you owe anybody money?" she asked.

"No!" little Willy answered. :'What's wrong? Why won't you tell me what's wrong?"

"That's just it," she said. "There is nothing wrong with him."

"You mean he's not sick?"

"Medically, he's as healthy as an ox. Could live to be a hundred if he wanted to."

"I don't understand," little Willy said.

Doc Smith took a deep breath. And then she began, "It happens when a person gives up. Gives up on life. For whatever reason. Starts up here in the mind first; then it spreads to the body. It's a real sickness, all right. And there's no cure except in the person's own mind. I'm sorry, child, but it appears that your grandfather just doesn't want to live anymore."

Little Willy was silent for a long time before he spoke. "But what about ... fishing ... and the Rodeo ... and turkey dinners? Doesn't he want to do those things anymore?"

Grandfather shut his eyes and tears rolled down his cheeks and disappeared into his beard.

"I'm sure he does," Doc Smith said, putting her arm around little Willy. "It must be something else. "

Little Willy stared at the floor. "I'll find out. I'll find out what's wrong and make it better. You'll see. I'll make Grandfather want to live again."

And Searchlight barked loudly.

Stone Fox. Copyright © by John Gardiner. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

John Reynolds Gardiner, an engineer by profession, has also worked as a writer adapting children's stories for television.

A native of Los Angeles, he has lived in West Germany, Central America, and the state of Idaho, where he first heard the legend that is the basis for Stone Fox, his first published work. He is also the author of Top Secret and General Butterfingers.

Mr. Gardiner lives in Huntington Beach, California, with his wife, Gloria, and their three daughters: Carrie, Alicia, and Danielle.

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Stone Fox 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 274 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sad but very teaching story it teaches you a lesson
Felix Calderon More than 1 year ago
This is such an awesome book! I read it in 3rd grade and 4th! I wanted to cry at the end, and i got really mad that the book would end. I WANT MORE!!!!!!!!!!
TERRILEE BAXTER More than 1 year ago
This book is the best book ever! I read this book in second grade and kept reading it over and over until the end of the year! Even though i sm in sixth grade i still read it. Highly recomended from m
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I remember reading this book. So sad but so thrilling. A page turning must read.
Lacey Obergfell More than 1 year ago
I read this book twice in grade school (2 and 4.) In forth grade my teacher sarted to cry. I rate it a 5. It was rthe best book
Ceil Maus-Conn More than 1 year ago
It is a relly good book with sad parts.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An awsome book that i read in schooland did a project on.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think it's AWSOME
Derek Ware More than 1 year ago
At the end it's sad but its really good
Guest More than 1 year ago
I like this story STONE FOX because of Willy.I like him because he really helps his grandfather.Another reason that I like him is he tries to help in every way he can.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this in school and all the girls cried because it was soooo touching:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is great, sad, and wonderful. I wish there was more to it though.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A shoould read book
len5 More than 1 year ago
I gave it to my 8 year old grand-daughter and she loved it!!
Anna Brown More than 1 year ago
This book made me cry but i still love it do mush i could kuss it all over
Brendan Cobb More than 1 year ago
Its a sad book but a good book
Silverstream More than 1 year ago
Alyssa Fish More than 1 year ago
really good book
GVSreading More than 1 year ago
Stone Fox is about a ten year old boy Willy. Willy needs to win the big race so he can give the money to his grandfather to save the farm. The main point is he trying to help his grandfather because he's really sick so he uses all of his college savings money to enter the race. If he wins he gets the money to save the farm. I thought that he would do anything to help his grandpa. I felt nervous when he was going to risk all of his college savings. The biggest problem for Willy is he has to go against Stone Fox. Stone Fox is a professional dog sledder. Stone Fox has won all the races he had entered his whole life. You should read it because it can be a true story to some people who have to deal with tough times.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book and bet you will too , plus the twist at the end is really sad
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is great, even with a sad ending. Great for kids!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I will read this book over and over again forever and ever until I die. It's one of those books that makes you cry with tears of joy at the end. Its so sad but so amazing at the same time. I feel so bad for searchlight at the end, she gave it her all which makes this book a truly amazing story. And how willie and searchlight walked accrosed the finish line at the end...it brings tears of happiness and sadness for the loss of searchlight. This is a book I canread over and over that will always cheer me up (and its always good to cry over an amazing book once in a while, it cleans your system)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a awsome book.But it sad at the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why did Searchlight have to die? I cried alot.