Book Outline           MIDNIGHT FOX by Betsy Byars              Level: S (Fountas and Pinnell)

Connections: Writing: headlines; news stories; letters; writing humor
                          Boy alone in country; boy with fears

Comprehension: character traits and change
                                understanding what makes humor

Vocabulary: Using context—see exercise

Book Guide:

Bad News

    Read together pages 9 a10 to make predictions and observe author’s style.
    Read pp11-18 to find out what we learn about the kind of person Tommy is.
    Separate: literal facts from inferred
    Make inferences about author’s style

The Trouble with Leaving

    p. 19—guided reading for inferences
    p. 21 Why does the author include the story about being rescued by a pig?
    Why do you think Tommy and Petie are such good friends?

Abandoned (Tommy goes to the farm.)

    Why the chapter title? Is that what the parents were doing?
    Read to find out what he expects at a farm and what he sees.
    p. 30—Guided reading—notice parents reactions: what inferences can you make?
(Why does mom keep her head turned; why does dad sock him on arm and say “So long sport.”)
    p. 33- Tells story about the boys thinking Petie was going to die because of the lines in his palms. Why does        
                author include this? How does it develop story?     
    p. 34—What inferences can you make about Mom’s response?


(Tom settles into Bubba’s room and the farm.)

The Black Fox

    (He sees Black Fox. There is a subtle adaptation to farm life beginning to occur.)
    p.40—guided reading. It adds more to character of Tom and begins to show adaptation to farm,
    p.45, 46—Note description and quote “It was so great I wanted to start over again.”
    pp.47-8- Guided reading and discussion. Note on p. 48 the comparison of seeing fox to war headline.


(Tom discusses fox with Hazeline.)
This is a good chapter to compare Hazeline and Tom and their approach to the fox.
    p. 52—Note inference Hazeline makes about fox
    p. 57--- Note how Tommy usually selects books to read [Reads those Petie recommends.] Note title of book he    
        chooses—“The lamb who thought he was a cat”. His comments about the book further reveal more about his    

Discovery at the Field

    p. 59—Read together and discuss. {Note he has spent 4 days waiting for the fox. That from someone who was not         patient!]
    p. 60—Discovers a new color.
    p. 62-4- He sights the fox again.

The Forest Chase

    p. 66- Discuss: “The fiercest desire to play—my father said—could be the most important part of the game.”
    p.66- note description of boulders---“large wrinkled boulders……hundreds of full skirts left on forest floor.”
    pp.66-7- No sound in forest;
    pp. 68-9 Note contrast between bravery in saving fox and fear of cows!
    Inference: Is he afraid of cows?
    humor—train cows as dancers
    p. 70- Note Hazeline’s inference on why fox wanted Tommy to follow her.
    p. 71- discussion: Why doesn’t he talk to Uncle Fred about Fox?

Uncle Fred

    Discuss his uneasiness with Uncle Fred. Why does he feel uneasy?
    pp. 73-4—Note humor in his fear of water scenerio.
    p. 75—Reader may not understand the genetic rarity of black fox.
    p. 77—Part of Petie’s questionnaire [6 of 50]. Kids might have fun taking it.
    p. 79—Tommy’s perception of beauty

The Search
    Note the connections between last page of preceding chapter and the first page of the next.
    p. 81- Notice tail’s comparison to sail
    p. 82-3: Why does author include story of pilot? How does it relate to Tommy and the fox?
    p. 84- story of the marbles—How does that relate to Tommy and the fox?
    bottom of 84-top of 85—Note how Tom is changing
    pp.88 Why doesn’t the fox go back to the den?
    last line on p. 89 is ominous.

Tragedy begins

Tommy discusses Petie and his pretend show: Bad moment. Bad moment then was losing pizzas. Bad moment now is going swimming—but he does and likes it. What is happening?
    How could pizzas be an omen? Is it a good comparison?
    p. 94- note change.
    p. 95- happiness to tragedy

One fear

    Note title. On page 102 he says he had listed 38 fears. Why this title?
    (Aunt Millie’s turkey is killed.)
    Discuss—Why is his new fear worse than the 4 pages of fears he had? How is it different?


    Hazeline’s boyfriend breaks up with her because she needs to lose 20 pounds.. Uncle Fred plans to go after the fox.

Unwilling Hunter

    Discussion ??Why does the author have this happen in such a heat wave?
    Why does he go on the hunt if he doesn’t want to kill the fox?
    Note p. 120 top—ordinarily he would get sick; but he doesn’t. Why?

The Den

Baby fox is captured and used as bait to catch mother fox.

The Stormy Rescue

    Tommy climbs out of window, down tree in storm to release baby fox. Then he tells Aunt and Uncle what he did.         They accept it nicely.


p. 151—Notice he is still worried about parent’s expectation.

Other possible discussions are to trace the humor in the book /or to analyze what makes the stories so funny /or to select favorite humorous story.

k. rogers

Respond to the following questions about Midnight Fox in your journal.

1. After finishing the chapter “Abandoned,

Do you think Tom will or will not “survive” on the farm? Why or why not?

2. After reading ‘Stranger”, answer the following question in your journal:

 From the description of Bubba’s bedroom, what can you infer about the type of person

Bubba was?

 Why do you think the author had Tommy sleep in his bedroom?

[If you have time when you are finished, add to your character chart of Tommy.]

3. After reading “The Black Fox,” reread pages 45 and 46. Tommy says that seeing the fox

“was so great I wanted to start over again.”

What does he mean when he says this?

 Describe a time that made you feel this way. (It could also be an event, a book you

read or a movie that you saw that made you feel that way.)

4. After reading “Hazeline,” think about the book Tommy selects. Why do you think the

author has Tommy select this book? How does the book connect with Tommy?

5. After reading “Discovery at the Field,” think. What would be a new color you would

invent? Describe it.

6. After reading Uncle Fred” reread page 79 and Tommy’s perception of beauty. If Tommy

were to write a definition of “beauty”, what would it be? Would it be same or different from


7. After reading “ One Fear,” discuss in your journal: Why does the author title the chapter

one fear when Tommy talks about having written four pages of 38 fears?

8. After reading “Unwilling Hunter,” why doesn’t Tommy explain to Uncle Fred his feelings

toward the Fox?

9. When you have finished reading the book, discuss how Tommy has changed during this

story? Give evidence from the text.

Name______________________________________________ (Midnight Fox)

Find the word & read I think it means The dictionary’s definition

p.10 cellophane

p.27 dismal

p. 29 puny

p. 40 adaptable

p. 44 fused

p. 65 pounced

p. 65 impulse

p. 67 thicket

p. 67 ravine

Find the word & read I think it means The dictionary’s definition

p.68 boulder

p. 68 reluctantly

p. 73 ritual

p. 75 pigment

p. 83 plume

p. 88 notches

p. 90 tragedy

p.110 unbearable

p. 115 sullenly

Find the word & read I think it means The dictionary’s definition

p. p. 101 impetuous

p. 106 vital

p. 120 cowering