December 13, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

Falling for Fall: Great Books To Celebrate the Season

Jump into the season with these stunningly illustrated and fun-to-share picture books that accentuate the observable characteristics of autumn while conveying the sense of wonder inherent in nature’s transformations.

Bella’s Fall Coat. by Lynn Plourde. illus. by Susan Gal. Disney/Hyperion. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781484726976.

PreS-Gr 2–“Whoosh[ing]” outdoors to crinkle and crackle through the autumn countryside, crunch and munch a shiny apple, or honk and flap with migrating geese, buoyant Bella is too busy to stop and discuss with her grandmother the need to replace her much-cherished but now-too-small jacket—until it begins to fall to pieces. That night, Grams sews a colorful coat that instantly becomes the girl’s new favorite, and is donned just in time to greet the first snowfall. Exuberant artwork and a narrative saturated with alliteration and onomatopoeia tell a tale about reveling in the season, accepting change, and intergenerational love.

Full of Fall. By April Pulley Sayre. Photos. by author. Beach Lane/S&S. Aug. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481479844.

PreS-Gr 4–Striking photographs and spare, action-packed verses chronicle the astonishing beauty of an autumn day in the woods. Images of leaves take center stage, showing off an assortment of shapes and sparkling hues (“Hello, yellow./Greetings, gold./Oh—it’s orange!/Red, be bold”) while crisp close-up photos reveal their various parts (“Margins. Midribs. Sunlit veins”). The spectacle continues as the leaves blow free in the wind, “slip and spin” to the ground, and “float and sink” in streams, resulting in a forest that “glows” before “Leaves fade and brown and decompose.” An author’s note provides a closer look at the science of this natural cycle, adding a STEAM-stimulating informational element to a breathtaking read-aloud.

Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn. by Kenard Pak. iIlus. by author. Holt. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781627794152.

PreS-Gr 3–A child takes a stroll on a late summer’s day through both countryside and town, cheerfully greeting the harbingers of fall and listening to their lyrical responses—trees describe how their branches sway in the wind, busy forest animals reveal their winter preparations, late-blooming asters and phlox enjoy “leaning into the sun,” thunder rumbles in the distance, a sidewalk puddle welcomes wind-blown leaves. Sumptuous, detail-packed watercolor-and-pencil illustrations vividly depict the setting and the girl’s interactions with her neighbors. Join the same child and her little brother for another similarly splendid seasonal transition as they say Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter (2017).

Hedgehugs: Autumn Hide-and-Squeak. by Steve Wilson. illus. by Lucy Tapper. Holt. Sept. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781250112484; BD $7.99. ISBN 9781250127907.

PreS-Gr 1–Two winsome hedgehog pals return to once again share upbeat outdoor adventures, but as autumn approaches, Hattie feels sad about the leaves falling from the trees. When Horace gallantly tries to put them back, they discover a “squeaky thing” hanging upside-down from a branch. A new friendship is forged with the fuzzy purple bat, and the critters romp through purple-and-red-hued fall flora for a game of hide-and-seek, one that eagle-eyed youngsters will enjoy as much as the three participants. Hattie feels sad again when it’s time to say goodbye, but this charming tale of friendship and hopefulness ends with a sweet surprise.

Hello Autumn! by Shelley Rotner. photos. by author. Holiday House. Sept. 2017. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780823438693.

PreS-Gr 2–Lyrical text and lovely photos introduce the sights, sounds, and very simple science of the season: “Swallows swoop” into a purple-blue sky, the air feels “cool and crisp,” and flamboyant leaves “fly and fall to the ground.” Accessible spreads outline how an array of plants, animals, and people weather the changes and prepare for the “cold days ahead.” Many of the beautifully composed photographs feature smiling children enjoying autumn activities. A feast for the senses, this book can inspire youngsters to observe the transformations happening all around them.

Hocus Pocus, It’s Fall. by Anne Sibley O’Brien. illus. by Susan Gal. 2016. Abrams Appleseed. 2016. Tr $12.95. ISBN 9781419721250.

PreS-Gr 2–Similar in format to Abracadabra, It’s Spring! (2016), this eye-dazzling ode to autumn utilizes “ta-da”-style phrases and color-splashed gatefolds to underscore the seemingly magical—but easily observable—transformations of the season. A sense of wonder is conveyed as leaves change from “green and bright” to red and gold, geese and ducks stretch wings and take flight, and orange pumpkins on the vine are converted into glowing jack-o’-lanterns. Radiant children in brilliant-hued outdoor gear and dynamically depicted wildlife populate this fall feast for eyes and ears.

In the Middle of Fall. by Kevin Henkes. illus. by Laura Dronzek. Greenwillow. Sept. 2017. PLB $18.89. ISBN 9780062573124; Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062573117.

PreS-Gr 2–Poetic text and lush-hued acrylic paintings depict a pastoral setting fully turned to autumn as leaves shimmer in sunset hues, squirrels scurry for nuts, and plump pumpkins stand ready for the picking. Cozily clad children cheerily engage in outdoor activities as the mood builds, until suddenly, with “one big gust of wind” (and a whirl of close-up leaves depicted in a motion-filled spread), “everything/is yellow/and red/and orange.” Delightful details and sensory-rich images encourage readers to appreciate the moment, for soon autumn’s glories will fade, and the sky will “fill up with snow.” A must-have for storytime sharing.

Little Elliot, Fall Friends. by Mike Curato. illus. by author. Holt. Aug. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781627796408.

PreS-Gr 2–In this fourth adventure, the small-size pastel-polka-dotted pachyderm and his best friend, Mouse, decide they need a break from the tumult of New York City and board a bus to the country where the air is fresh, ripe apples are ready for the picking, and the red-and-gold landscape provides numerous opportunities for hide-and-seek. There are a few moments of worry when the two become separated for real, but some new farmyard friends and an aromatic apple pie help to ensure a happy reunion and a starlit fall feast. Enchanting, light-washed paintings depict a retro setting, the warmth of an autumn day, and the contentment of cherished friendship.

One Leaf, Two Leaves, Count with Me! by John Micklos Jr. illus. by Clive McFarland. Nancy Paulsen/Penguin. Sept. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399544712.

PreS-Gr 1–Toe-tapping rhymes and vivacious mixed-media artwork invite youngsters to count along as an oak tree changes throughout the seasons. In springtime, bright green buds unfurl one by one (1 to 10); on a “blue-sky” summer day, the tree bursts with deep-green leaves (and birds, bugs, and squirrels); leaves, now gold and orange, fall from the tree in autumn (kids count down from 10 to 1); finally, “frosty, freezing” winter means bare branches…until buds appear again in spring. Starring an endearing young protagonist and active woodland critters, the detailed artwork invites youngsters to pore over the pages. A superb choice for reinforcing counting skills, discussing seasonal transformations, and encouraging kids to explore the outdoors.

Wonderfall. by Michael Hall. illus. by author. Greenwillow. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062382986.

PreS-Gr 2–Hall celebrates the treasures and transformations of autumn in a series of accessible poems told from the perspective of an oak tree. From “Peacefall” (listening to the “Plink,/plunk,/plop” of gently falling acorns), to “Plentifall” (observing an abundance of just-harvested apples), to “Playfall” (squirrels chase in the tree’s branches while children frolic in the fallen leaves below), to a cold snap that brings “snowfall” at book’s end, the inviting spreads capture the marvels of each moment. An endnote introduces the science behind the season. A wonderfall choice for autumn sharing, or inspiring creative writing and art projects.

Other “Great Books” lists by Joy Fleishhacker include “Great Books: A Library Lover’s Delights,” and “Companions Steadfast and True: Great Books about Imaginary Friends.”

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Joy Fleishhacker About Joy Fleishhacker

Joy Fleishhacker is a librarian, former SLJ staffer, and freelance editor and writer who works at the Pikes Peak Library District in southern Colorado.

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