The Gold Leaf

illus. by Matthew Forsythe. 48p. Enchanted Lion. May 2017. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781592702145.
PreS-Gr 2—One green-filled spring, a single gold leaf shimmers and tantalizes the forest animals. A spry warbler snatches up the leaf for her nest, but quick as a wink, it's stolen by a chipmunk. Animal after animal plucks the precious treasure from its new owner until the leaf is nothing more than a pile of tattered pieces. The seasons pass, but no other gold leaves appear until the following spring. No one picks the leaf this time, for the animals' happiness lies not in possessing the object but in the knowledge that it has returned to them after all. Rich mixed-media illustrations layer color and texture, creating a quiet, glowing atmosphere. The titular gold leaf shines in its embossed glory. The simple, unassuming text adds to the magic of the forest. Art and text are kept separated, with all text printed on a strip of white along the bottom edge of the pages. At times, the lyrical narration contradicts itself. For instance, it tells us that none of the animals saw the gold leaf among the newness of spring. Without transition, the next sentence reads, "Each one wanted it more than anything else in the world." The message at the heart of this allegorical tale is a rather obscure one for young audiences but could be used to spark discussion.
VERDICT A beautifully illustrated selection for classroom or one-on-one sharing.

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