I mean, just look at his art! It's got that groovy, retro Leo Lionni vibe with a modern twist. I have become so enamored of his art that I recognize it instantly in the book store or the library, and I am automatically drawn to it. He has not steered me wrong in his choices of books to illustrate (the stories are extraordinary). I have read many gems because of him.
That being said, I had a bit of a problem with Pax. Really it's more about the subject material that Pennypacker chose to write about as a cause and effect for her tale about a fox and a boy. I didn't like that part. I don't think kids need that part.
Granted, her story is clever. And the way both boy and fox have parallel life experiences that change them is brilliant. I get it, her allegory, her social commentary etc. But really though... that's all just going to go right over most kid's ten-year-old heads, unless an adult points it out to them, which makes this more a teachable issue book rather than a book about love and friendship.
Also, the vagueness of names, places, some war somewhere... I don't think it's fair to be so opaque about something that should be very clear cut and definable to a child. Once a kid gets confused about something they lose interest, and expecting them to try and accept an alternate world is usually a challenge without some specifics to ground them with.
I liked the book, the illustrations were wonderful (naturally!). The story was devastating... which is usually the norm with this genre. You know the genre I'm talking about. That old spiel of kid loves animal, and loses animal with a maximum of misery and angst. It's a very retro idea, which is perhaps why Jon Klassen was the illustrator with his retro art. It's a good fit.
More on Jon later...