I'm doing something new this year: adding a Monday blog post. It will be a place to talk about writing, share inspiration, and even feature some guest authors and illustrators. Drop by Monday and join me. And now, back to our regularly scheduled book review.
Fox: A Circle of Life Story
by Isabel Thomas; illus. by Daniel Egnéus
48 pages; ages 5-7
Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2021
theme: life, nature, death
The ground is frozen. The branches are bare. Dead leaves crunch underfoot. But look closely….
… and you will find life stirring in the shadows. A squirrel maybe? A bird? In this book, it’s a fox hunting supper for her cubs. Over time we see the young foxes grow, play, begin to hunt on their own. They are part of the circle of life.
We also watch mama fox, killed in an accident, in her own journey in the circle of life. Leaves cover her. Birds and beetles get to work, laying eggs “where they know brand-new life can grow.” Over time, particles that were once part of fox find a new place in the world.
What I like about this book: I like how Isabel Thomas embraces a huge question: what happens when an animal dies? By focusing on a single animal, fox, she shows the cycle of life: birth, growth, death, and how the decomposition of the fox provides for new life. I like the language. As mama fox hunts a rabbit, we see her ears stiffen, and then she leaps! As the cubs grow, they somersault and tumble, leap at insects, chase each other. And there is Back Matter! That’s where curious kids (and parents seeking ways to help answer tough questions) can find out more about the building blocks of life, decomposition, and how death is a natural part of the cycle of life. “Death,” writes Isabel, “is the end of one life, but it is also the beginning of many more.”
Beyond the Books:
What sort of rituals do people use to mark our life cycle? How does your family celebrate birth? How do you honor growth and aging? Do you have special observances for remembering people who have died?
Observe the life cycle of a plant. Watch how a plant grows through the season. Trees flower, grow leaves, then lose their leaves in the fall. What happens to those leaves over winter? Eventually they decay, providing nutrients to the soil.
Pay attention to scavengers in nature. Next time you come across a dead bug – or a worm or frog – take a moment to look around. Are there ants or beetles (or even birds) carrying off parts for a meal? Note the location and time, and check back later. Is the bug or frog still there? How long does it take the “clean-up” crew to remove it?
Today we're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copy provided by the publisher.