Fox: A Circle of Life Story
Isabel Thomas and Daniel Egnéus
Bloomsbury Children’s Books
This beautiful book sent me straight back to my copy of T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets, to the opening line of East Coker, ‘In my beginning is my end.’
As the story opens in early spring in a still frozen forest life is astir: we follow fox as she sets out to find food for her three cubs.
We meet them a few weeks later – bigger, bolder and playful close to the safety of their den. They too decide it’s time to try being hunters as they follow their parent on the hunt.
Suddenly danger appears in the form of a car; the three cubs dash safely across the road but not so their mother. She is hit, tossed into the grass and dies.
The cubs return home leaving a decomposing body that little by little, over almost a year, returns to the earth, to the plants and to the air.
Her remains provide food and shelter for other creatures and a place for new life to be nourished and flourish. For death is not merely an end, it’s a beginning too.
The powerful, beautifully written non-fiction narrative of Isabel Thomas and the stunningly gorgeous illustrations of Daniel Egnéus combine to make a book that answers one of the ‘big’ scientific questions children ask, ‘ What happens when we die?’ and provides a perfect starting point for talking about the cycle of life and death or, as the subtitle says ‘A circle of life story.’
(There’s also a final spread that has separate paragraphs explaining ‘The building blocks of life’, “What is death?’, What is decomposition’, ‘The cycle of life’ and ‘Death is not just an end’.
There’s no need to wait for the death of a beloved pet or human before sharing this book with youngsters though: I’d suggest reading it with a class or in a family at any time, particularly at a time when the seasons change.