The Circles in the Sky

The Circles in the Sky
Age Range
Release Date
September 27, 2022
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With luminous illustrations, this original folktale about the discovery of a lifeless bird offers a sympathetic exploration of grief, loss, and hope.

One morning, Fox is drawn toward the forest. There, in a clearing, he sees something small and silent, perhaps forgotten. It’s a bird, lying as still as can be. Fox is confused, upset, and angry. Is the bird broken? Why doesn’t it move or sing, no matter what Fox does? His curious antics are spied by a little moth, who shares a comforting thought about the circles in the sky—that the sun, even after it sets, is reflected by the moon and the stars, reminding us of its light. In an author-illustrator debut, Karl James Mountford pairs a text at once lyrical and humorous, meditative and down-to-earth with glorious, multilayered artwork that will take your breath away. Told with sensitivity and an enchanting visual style, this story of the ineffable nature of death and life has the feel of a universal folktale for modern times.

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The Sad Truth
Overall rating
Writing Style
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When Fox hears a strange song from the birds, he ventures outside to see what's changed. He travels a long way until he stumbles upon a group of birds that fly away at the sight of him. When they clear out, Fox notices one bird on the ground, so still and all alone. Fox tries to stir him with scares and food but nothing seems to work. A moth who's watching nearby approaches Fox to try to explain what's happened. At first, Fox doesn't understand. How can Bird be here, but not? So Moth tries a different approach and Fox finally understands. Bird is dead and it invokes an odd sensation from Fox. Moth realizes that he's sad and helps him work through it, even staying with him on his journey home.

THE CIRCLES IN THE SKY is a children's book that introduces the idea of grief and loss. Moth explains that something so sad can't just be spoken. It has to be explained in pieces so it isn't too jarring. Moth is understanding and patient, even as Fox grows angry and frustrated. The illustrations are breath-taking with its unique art style and attention to detail. This story will spring tears to the readers' eyes, but it's a great way to teach children about loss and the circle of life. With animals as the main characters, it gives the sad blow a softer feel.

Final Verdict: Overall, THE CIRCLES IN THE SKY is a stunning story that will touch the hearts of both the children and their parents who are reading it to them. It's a great tool for those who have recently lost someone but don't quite understand. Death isn't an easy topic to speak about, but it's a necessary one because it's a part of life. This story is the perfect way to open that door.
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