Even in winter, there is life in the forest. Fox: A Circle of Life Story by Isabel Thomas and illustrated by Daniel Egneus is a gentle yet honest introduction to death and the circle of life in the forest.
Mother Fox moves through the woods with silence and strength. The predator/prey relationship is obvious and just how essential it is for survival is very clear. The concepts of energy, nutrients, particles and cycles are developed in a child-friendly manner with appropriate detail and explanations.
The charming fox cubs are learning and growing. At first, they rely on their mother to survive but soon they are forced to become self-sufficient. Mother Fox dies and her young have to rely on themselves. The book then moves on to explain decomposition and how new life flows from old as Mother Fox fades away. Although shocking and sad, this is presented with honesty, hope and an emphasis on the next generation of living things.
Daniel Egneus’ illustrations are gorgeous and unique. Their soft edges add to the gentleness of the explanations and the positive message. Readers will be drawn in by their expressiveness and charm. The foxes look so very sweet but their animal nature is still very clear. The colours are bright and appealing yet very natural, showing the beauty of the forest away from human impact.
Fox: A Circle of Life Story is perfect for topics about life cycles, food chains, habitats and ecosystems. It would fit in well with themes of autumn, winter, seasons and animal young. This book is suitable for younger children yet detailed enough for Years 5 & 6. In answering the question, “What happens when something dies?”, it is likely to prompt valuable discussion and raise more important questions. It is a wonderful opportunity to talk about the truth about life and death in the wild and deal with the emotions it raises.
I wish I’d had this book a few years ago when we had a family of foxes living under the portacabin right outside my classroom window. Lessons would come to a complete standstill whenever a young fox came out to play in the sunshine. The Year 6 children loved watching the little ones chase butterflies and each other’s tails only metres from their classroom. As a result, we abandoned the topic we were going to study and spent the next month learning about foxes. The class became the school fox experts and went from classroom to classroom sharing their writing about these beautiful animals. Sadly, some of the foxes died. This book would have been incredibly useful in helping the children understand their death and the circle of life. I’m sure it will be welcome in many, many classrooms as a valuable resource.
Thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing and NetGalley for this unique book.
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