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Fox : a circle of life story
2021
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Publishers Weekly Review
In this nonfiction picture book from the creators of Moth, luminous collage-style images warm a narrative rooted in birth and death. A long sequence of spreads shows a mother fox hunting for food, then returning to her three cubs, who roughhouse and play at hunting while she's gone. Then, in a single, shocking moment, the mother fox is struck and killed by a car, her copper figure shown against the blue sky: "Her heartbeat slows/ her last breath hangs in the air." Following this event, Thomas turns to the process of decomposition: "Mites and magpies take their share.// Flies and beetles visit too,/ laying their eggs/ where they know/ brand new life can/ feed and grow." What of the cubs? They look on curiously, then return home. The warm introductory family story of the first section and the dispassionate exploration of the second feel like disparate elements tacked awkwardly together. Older readers interested in the natural world and truths about predators and prey may be intrigued. Younger readers beguiled by the lovely fox family may find it upsetting. Ages 5--7. (Nov.)
School Library Journal Review
PreS-Gr 4--This sensitive subject of the circle of life starts sweetly, with the fox mother's life and the joys and responsibilities of raising her young, then turns its focus on her sudden violent death, decomposition, and her contribution to nature. A well-written text along with the attractive art will fill a needed subject area, and it is an admirable teaching tool. However, preschoolers, attracted by the appearance of material, may not be ready for this book without first sharing it with an adult. The mother fox is hit by a car, and subsequently picked apart by magpies, with her flesh in their beaks, while beetles lay their eggs in her corpse. Yet, once explained, the material is accessible to preschoolers, because the beginning has simple text and illustrations that match the action. Older children will find a fuller description at the end. VERDICT An admirable book, beautifully presented, and meant to be shared intentionally and carefully with its audience.--Nancy Call, formerly at Santa Cruz P. L., Aptos, CA
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