Brimming with golden leaves, gusty winds, harvest happenings, and winter preparations, these engaging picture books are just right for late-autumn sharing.
Awesome Autumn. by Bruce Goldstone. Holt. 2012. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780805092103.
PreS-Gr 3—Goldstone’s cornucopia of clear explanations, crisp photos, and captivating facts provides an accessible look at all things autumn. The handsomely designed pages delve into why leaves change color, crop harvesting, animal migration and hibernation, and favorite fall activities. Spreads also bring youngsters’ senses into play with words and images that evoke the textures, tastes, and sounds of the season. An awesome introduction.
Baby Bear Counts One. by Ashley Wolff. illus. by author. S. & S./Beach Lane. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781442441583; ebook $10.99. ISBN 9781442441590.
PreS-K—Awakened by a loud “thockthockthock,” a curious cub wonders who is making the noises he hears around him. Mama patiently explains each sound’s origins, while Baby Bear counts the woodland animals busily preparing for winter—one woodpecker taps a tree for beetles, two squirrels drop acorns (“plunk…plunk”), three twig-gathering beavers “whap” the water with their tails, and so on, until the sky fills with the soft “ting” of 10 swirling snowflakes. Like Baby Bear Sees Blue (S. & S., 2012), this picture book combines interactive text, dazzling artwork, and sweet affection.
Flora’s Very Windy Day. by Jeanne Birdsall. illus. by Matt Phelan. Clarion. 2010. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780618986767; pap. $6.99. ISBN 9780547994857; ebook $16. ISBN 9780547487366.
K-Gr 3—Though Flora sometimes wishes her annoying little brother would go away, when an autumn wind whisks him into the air, she immediately kicks off her “super-special heavy-duty red boots” and follows after. As they sail along, she receives several offers for the little boy—a dragonfly wants a wing-polisher, a sparrow wants an egg-sitter, a cloud wants a raindrop-squeezer—but gradually realizes that the right place for Crispin is home. Lyrical text and supple orange-and-brown-splashed artwork tell a tale of adventure and honest emotion.
Fall Ball. by Peter McCarty. illus. by author. Holt. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780805092530.
K-Gr 3—Faded leaves whirl past a rattling school bus filled with boys and girls who can’t wait to get home and play. Bobby and the rest of the gang rush to the park to toss around a football until shadows grow long and they are called inside. Snow falls gently as Bobby snuggles into comfy pajamas and settles onto the couch with his parents to watch TV (football, of course!). Illustrated with vivacious pen-and-ink and watercolor artwork, McCarty’s nostalgic tale hums with humor, leaf-crunching ambiance, and the simple pleasures of a late-autumn day.
How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow? by Wendell Minor. illus. by author. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Bks. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399246845; ebook $10.99. ISBN 9781101627952.
K-Gr 2—Minor’s lively text and color-saturated paintings prove the sky’s the limit. Spreads showcase increasingly gargantuan jack-o’-lanterns that aggrandize famous American landmarks—a “gigantic” pumpkin blocks traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge, a “mighty” specimen is equal in size to the Mount Rushmore presidents, or a “colossal” orange behemoth fills the Grand Canyon (brief facts about the 14 featured sites are appended). A vocabulary-fortifying and imagination-stirring treat.
Leaf Man. by Lois Ehlert. illus. by author. Harcourt. 2005. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780152053048; Big Book ed. Tr $26.99. ISBN 9780544339163.
PreS-Gr 3—With a body concocted from fallen foliage, acorns for eyes, and a sweet-gum-fruit mouth, Leaf Man whooshes away on the wind, sailing over fields of ready-to-harvest vegetables, glistening waterways, and crimson mountainsides, his destination unknown. Spectacular collage artwork and scalloped die-cut pages depict the scenes, fashioned from color-copied leaves of various shapes, sizes, and lustrous hues. A superb choice for inspiring nature walks, art projects, and imaginations, this fall classic in now available in an oversize edition.
Leaves. by David Ezra Stein. illus. by author. Putnam. 2007. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780399246364; BD $6.99. ISBN 9780399254970.
PreS-Gr 2—It’s a bear’s first year on his tiny island and everything is going well—until the leaves begin to fall. Concerned, he tries to put them back on the trees (unsuccessfully). When he grows sleepy, he uses the foliage to cozy up his den. Winter turns to spring, and the bear awakens to bright sunshine and tiny green buds ready to unfold (“Welcome!”). Stein’s exuberant earth-toned watercolors and simple sentences provide a lovely look at the changing seasons and celebrate the magic and exhilaration of first experiences.
Pick a Circle, Gather Squares: A Fall Harvest of Shapes. by Felicia Sanzari Chernesky. illus. by Susan Swan. Albert Whitman. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780807565384.
PreS-Gr 2—On an “Apple crisp October day,” a father and two children visit a farm where they discover a bounty of autumn produce and fun-to-find shapes. On each spread, robust rhymes highlight a particular shape (“Here’s the sun./Apples, pumpkins—/such round fun!”), and the eye-catching collage illustration presents numerous objects that expand the concept (a wagon wheel, donuts, etc.). This interactive romp is a reminder to youngsters to look for shapes, colors, and patterns in their day-to-day world.
Pumpkin Countdown. by Joan Holub. illus. by Jan Smith. Albert Whitman. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780807566602.
K-Gr 2—It’s field trip day, and Ms. Blue’s students are heading off to Farmer Mixenmatch’s Pumpkin Patch to visit the petting zoo, wander the corn maze, take a tractor ride, and pick the perfect pumpkin. From 20 gourd-shaped nametags to one pumpkin song shared during the bus ride home, bouncy rhymes and lush artwork highlight oodles of objects for readers to seek out and count. Apple Countdown (Albert Whitman, 2009) presents a similarly seasonal synthesis of simple math challenges, interesting facts, and irresistible enthusiasm.
Sleep Tight, Little Bear. by Britta Teckentrup. illus. by author. NorthSouth. 2014. Tr $17.95. ISBN 978-0735841802.
PreS-Gr 1—A mother and cub are ready to begin their winter slumber, but first they bid a fond good night to all of their forest friends including Badger, Mommy Fox and her cubs, Deer, and even grumpy Owl. Finally settled into their cozy, leaf-lined cave, Little Bear requests and receives repeated hugs, kisses, and reassurances until he falls into a deep and peaceful sleep. Filled with appealing textures and soft loamy hues, the stylized artwork shimmers with warmhearted affection. A must-share for bedtime, this charmer can also be used to introduce animal hibernation.
We Gather Together: Celebrating the Harvest Season. by Wendy Pfeffer. illus. by Linda Bleck. Dutton. 2006. Puffin reprint. 2014. pap. $8.99. ISBN 9780147512826.
Gr 1-4—Lucid and lyrical, this inviting picture book provides an overview of how people and animals prepare for winter. Topics touched upon include the autumnal equinox and changing seasons, a brief history of farming across the globe, and a look at how bountiful harvests have been celebrated by different countries and cultures from earliest times to the modern day. Filled with bold colors and graceful motion, the dynamic paintings incorporate details of time and place along with a universal air of jubilation.
Winter Is Coming. by Tony Johnston. illus. by Jim LaMarche. S. & S./Paula Wiseman Bks. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781442472518; ebook $10.99. ISBN 9781442472532.
PreS-Gr 2—Every day, from gold-gilded September to snow-speckled late November, a girl heads out to her treehouse at the edge of the woods and quietly observes the behavior of the animals that venture near to forage for food, making sketches and entries in her notebook. A fire-red fox sniffs at the last wrinkled apple on a tree; chattering chipmunks “ripple from branch to branch of a pine” searching for seeds; a lynx, “the color of moon,” paws a beetle from frozen leaves. The poetic first-person narration and exquisite light-infused paintings underscore realistic details while also engendering appreciation for the beauties and wonders of the natural world.