Stone Fox

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Stone Fox
Stone Fox.jpg
AuthorJohn Reynolds Gardiner
IllustratorMarcia Sewall
CountryUnited States
GenreChildren's novels
Published1980 Harper & Row
Media typePrint (Paperback)
Pages200 pages
LC ClassMICS 2006/42188 (P)

Stone Fox is a short children's novel by John Reynolds Gardiner. It is the first and best known of Gardiner's books. Stone Fox was acclaimed and very popular when it was published in 1980.[1] It sold three million copies and was turned into a television movie starring Buddy Ebsen, Joey Cramer, and Gordon Tootoosis and directed by Harvey Hart in 1987.[2] It was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year for 1980 (Nov. 30, 1980. p. BR4), and was included in 100 Best Books for Children by Anita Silvey.[3]

The book centers on a boy named Little Willy who enters a dog sled race in order to win $500 to pay back the taxes on his grandfather's farm. It is written in simple prose and is set at an indeterminate time in the American Old West. The book was inspired by a Rocky Mountain legend that Gardiner heard when he visited Idaho.[1] Stone Fox was originally intended as a screenplay but became a book at the suggestion of a producer.[2]



Ten year old Willy lives in Jackson, Wyoming on a potato farm with his grandfather and his dog Searchlight. During a harsh winter his grandfather falls ill and the tax collector comes calling for back taxes. Willy is convinced that he and Searchlight can beat the other racers entering the National Dogsled Race (held each year in Jackson), and in doing so win the $500 prize money that is required to save the farm.

Main Characters[edit]

  • Little Willy - the protagonist of the book, he lives with his grandfather in a potato farm in Jackson, Wyoming, United States, male.
  • Searchlight - Willy's loyal black dog, female, heart burst during the race.
  • Grandfather - Willy's grandfather, who is bedridden during much of the story, male.
  • Doc Smith - the town's only doctor and a close friend to Willy and Grandfather, female.
  • Stone Fox - a Native American resentful of White seizure of his people's land. He never speaks to Whites and has never lost a race, using the prize money towards buying their farmland back, male.
  • Mr. Clifford Snyder - the local tax collector, male.
  • Mr. Foster - the bank president who helps Willy with the paper work, male.
  • Lester - a kind store clerk who runs Lester's general store, male.
  • Dusty the Drunk - the town drunkard who tells Willy of Stone Fox.


Stone Fox is a 1987 television adaptation of the book starring Buddy Ebsen (as Grandpa), Joey Cramer (as Willy), Gordon Tootoosis (as Stone Fox), and Belinda Montgomery (as Doc Smith). The film was produced by Allarcom Limited and Taft Broadcasting in association with Hanna-Barbera.

The plot in the movie is a little different from the book, Grandpa, instead of losing the desire to live, suffers a stroke, and Willy has to win the race to save his Grandpa's Cattle Ranch. Stone Fox also leaves Willy a puppy after the death of Searchlight, who is named "Morgan" in the film. The movie was filmed at Fort Edmonton Park, Fox Drive and Whitemud Drive in Alberta, Canada.


  1. ^ a b Silvey, Anita, 2002, The Essential Guide to Children's Books and Their Creators, Houghton Mifflin Books, ISBN 0-618-19082-1.
  2. ^ a b John R. Gardiner, kids’ author, dies at 61, MSNBC.
  3. ^ Silvey, Anita, 2004, 100 Best Books for Children, Houghton Mifflin Books, ISBN 0-618-27889-3.

External links[edit]