This informational picture book is unique and will probably surprise quite a few readers, used to a sentimental view of wildlife.
In the first half of the book, a fox hunts, returns to her cubs, and takes them out an on expedition. Gorgeous oranges, blues, and greens show them playing and exploring the forest with a simple narrative talking about their habits and behavior. Then night falls and they are headed back to their den when the fox mother is struck by a car and killed.
In the second half of the story, the cubs carry on by themselves, but the fox's body is now the focus of the story as it translates into new life, eaten by other creatures and eventually decomposing into the ground, where it becomes part of everything else in the forest, including the grown cubs who are now teaching their own cubs. The story ends with the simple words, "Life is everywhere. Death is not just an end, but a beginning."
The gorgeous artwork and gentle, matter-of-fact narration present a realistic but comforting picture of the cycle of life for all things, from birth to death. This may be startling to adults who don't want to present the concept of death to their children in any way, but it's part of life and not something you can just avoid. This is a hopeful and scientific way to present the concept, as well as an interesting presentation of the life cycle of a fox and other forest creatures.
Verdict: A unique informational title that will be a strong purchase for most libraries. It works well as a read-aloud, although probably not in storytime unless you know all the attendees very well.
ISBN: 9781547606924; Published 2021 by Bloomsbury; Borrowed from another library; Purchased for the library