Review of Fox: A Circle of Life Story

Fox: A Circle of Life Story
by Isabel Thomas; illus. by Daniel Egnéus
Primary, Intermediate    Bloomsbury    48 pp.    g
11/21    978-1-5476-0692-4    $18.99
e-book ed.  978-1-5476-0776-1    $13.29

“A death is the end of one life, but it is also the beginning of many more.” This account of the life of a fox, by the creators of Moth: An Evolution Story (rev. 5/19), features the stages that rarely get attention: death and decomposition. The book opens similarly to other circle-of-life tales: a fox traverses wintertime and springtime landscapes in search of prey to feed her three growing cubs. As time passes, the cubs learn how to survive, jumping and playing across the pages, then silently echoing their mother’s hunting stealth. Egnéus’s animals’-eye illustrations show lively red-orange foxes moving through equally colorful landscapes that creatively indicate shifts in the seasons, dotted with snowflakes in winter, fireflies in summer. Halfway through the book, in what some may find an unsettling turn, the mother fox is hit by a car and dies, slowly, over several pages; the young foxes note but do not mourn the loss. What happens next is extraordinary in writing and illustration: Thomas stays with the fox, explaining factually, yet reverently, the process of decomposition and the role of dead organisms in the full circle of life. “Every particle that was once fox finds a new place in the world…in grass, in trees, in rabbits, in bees, in daffodils dancing in the breeze.” The accompanying images reflect this affirmative perspective, using bright colors and glowing dots (“particles”) to show how the fox’s body becomes a host to fungi and insects as well as food for other animals that aid in breaking it down. A concluding spread includes additional information on these processes.

From the November/December 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Danielle J. Ford
Danielle J. Ford
Danielle J. Ford is a Horn Book reviewer and an associate professor of Science Education at the University of Delaware.

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