I had planned on discussing Seasons by Anne Crausaz on the first day of Spring (Kane Miller, $15.99). But dammit it feels like spring now! However, believe me, I am well aware that around here spring in March does not guarantee spring in April. Seasons, as you might expect, moves through the four seasons of the year, starting with, “Everything is green. It must be springtime”. The text is fairly simple, but flows nicely from one season to the next, “Fireflies, like flying stars. Summer has arrived!” . . . “The colors have changed. Autumn is here.” . . . “Now the fog is so think it’s hard to see. It’s winter.” . . . “Because soon, the flowers will start growing up through the snow, ready for // spring.” Moreover, the illustrations are remarkable. The cover is a clear indicator of the illustrations inside the book. That bright, vibrant yellow, with the simple flowers and bird are lovely. Similarly, each page concentrates on one or two aspects of nature, allowing the reader to focus in on flowers, lady bugs, water, snails, and snowflakes. All of the children featured are shown engaging with and enjoying nature. From smelling the berries to playing in the leaves, the children are not simply watching the season pass, they are participating in the delights of each one.
December is almost here, and our holiday books are slowly taking over the front of store, but there are still a few fall leaves clinging to the trees — at least where I live. I figured it was time to recommend a few good fall books before they are completely eclipsed by winter. I don’t feel like I’m too behind, though, because a recurring theme in fall picture books is concluding the story with the arrival of winter.
Fletcher and the Falling Leaves, by Julia Rawlinson and illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke (Harper, $6.99), is a rather endearing story about Fletcher, a red fox, who desperately tries to keep his favorite tree from losing its leaves. Fletcher loves sitting under the splendor of the tree’s green canopy. He loves the new vibrant red, oranges, and yellows, too, but he becomes increasingly agitated when the leaves turn brown and begin to fall. His resistance against the inevitable is valiant, but futile. His attempts to tie the leaves back on to the branches and his instructions to stay there evoke bittersweet sympathy. Rawlinson and Beeke both capture the beauty and melancholy of autumn. Fletcher’s despair at the loss of his final leaf is heartbreaking appropriate as we head into the dark months. Fletcher, however, discovers a new kind of beauty, when he wakes up under a glistening canopy of white. A necessary step towards the return of the green.
Stories about fall, and the changing leaves, lend themselves to gorgeous illustrations. Other great leaf books include Look What I Did with a Leaf! by Moretza Sohi (Walker, $7.99), which has inventive suggestions for using leaves in crafts and illustrations, The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger (Greenwillow, $16.99), and Awesome Autumn by Bruce Goldstone (Henry Holt, $16.99).
Today’s category is rather general, because this recommended series covers a lot of topics. Turtleback Books, of HarperCollins, publishes a series of books entitled Let’s Read and Find Out – Science ($5.99), which are edited according to levels. The levels are as much about cognitive development as reading level. Level 1 includes titles such as Clouds, From Seed to Pumpkin, Fireflies in the Night, My Five Senses, What Lives in a Shell, and A Nest Full of Eggs.
Level 2 contains significantly more books and is more conceptual than Level 1. Examples of titles in Level 2 are Why Do Leaves Change Color?, Fossils: Tell of Long Ago, What Happens to Our Trash?, How Do Birds Find Their Way?, Follow the Water from Brook to Ocean, Volcanoes, How Do Apples Grow?, Forces Make Things Move, What Will the Weather Be?, and the latest title, Almost Gone: The World’s Rarest Animals.