Review of The Circles in the Sky

The Circles in the SkyThe Circles in the Sky
by Karl James Mountford; illus. by the author
Primary    Candlewick Studio    40 pp.    g
9/22    978-1-5362-2498-6    $18.99

After a day on the hunt, Fox hears the birds singing in a new and different way. Fox follows their “strange morning song” and finds them gathered around a totally still and “broken” bird. As Fox sits in confusion, a moth joins him and attempts an explanation. Though lovely, Moth’s metaphor of the rising of the sun and setting of the moon leaves Fox exasperated and impatient for real answers. Moth shares: “Sad things are hard to hear. They are pretty hard to say, too. They should be told in little pieces.” When at last Moth states simply that the bird has died, the two animals sit together in sadness, in remembrance, and, at last, in hope. This original fable of Fox and Moth’s reckoning with death is both earnest and sensitive in its approach to loss and grief. The animal figures stand out in shades of black and gray against soft red and green landscapes, each layered with captivating geometric patterns. In some cases, Mountford’s digitally rendered spreads offer nods to the circle of life within the forest floor itself: fossils hide beneath Fox’s feet on one page while lush, blooming flowers surround him on another. An apt selection for children grappling with the sorrow and pain of loss.

From the November/December 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Grace McKinney
Grace McKinney

Grace McKinney holds an MA in Children's Literature from Simmons University and reviews for the Horn Book Magazine. She works at a Montessori school in St. Louis, Missouri, and writes about children's books and Montessori on the blog Cosmic Bookshelf.

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