Friday, September 11, 2009

Just Fall Picture Books

When I stepped out of my house this morning, the first sound I heard was a lone leaf skittering across the street. The temperature had dropped about 20 degrees overnight and suddenly, it was autumn! I have been saving up some fall-themed picture books and now seems the perfect time to share them.

Zero is the Leaves on the Tree: A Book about Nothing by Betsy Franco, illustrated by Shino Arihara
While basically just a book about the concept of zero, Franco's evocative, poetic word/concept choices and Arihara's gorgeous paintings make this one of my favorite books of the year. The book follows the seasons, beginning with fall, with vignettes both in the classroom at out in the world. The title is one example of zero, referring to the leaves left on the tree in fall: zero. Another, "Zero is...the bikes in the bike rack on the last day of school."

The Sc
arecrow's Dance by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
I'm not always a fan of poem picture books, but Jane Yolen's newest is completely engaging and is paired with luminous illustrations that perfectly match the mood of the piece. The whole thing is perfect for autumn; somber and joyful, you can almost taste the crisp air as you're reading.

And T
hen Comes Halloween by Tom Brenner, illustrated by Holly Meade
Gorgeous, descriptive language accompanies paper collage illustrations in this perfect book describing the sights, sounds, and feelings of autumn that lead up to Halloween. Each page perfectly evokes an autumnal moment as step-by-step and day-by-day children prepare their costumes and decorations. "When nighttime creeps closer to suppertime, And red and gold seep into green leaves...Then it’s time to decide what to be."

Boo to You! by Lois Ehlert
I'm really a big fan of Lois Ehlert's collage style, especially the pieces she uses from nature. It's fun to use the books with kids and make your own "found" art. Anyway, her newest book celebrates harvest and Halloween as two mice who are trying to eat in the garden get a good idea for scaring away the cat that is stalking them - they will scare the cat away! The collages are made from paper, vegetables, seeds, nuts, twine, and many other materials. I love the color palette; it's perfect for fall, except for the blue mice who really stand out from the other oranges, browns, and greens

Monsters Don't Eat Broccoli! by Barbara Jean Hicks, illustrated by Sue Hendra
Fum, foe, fie, fee, monsters don't eat broccoli! But they do eat tractors, space ships, fences, and trees! See what else monsters do and try to get them to eat some broccoli in this fun new rhyming book that slightly encourages eating one's vegetables. Okay, this isn't really a fall themed book, but everyone loves a monster at Halloween.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Strawberry Hill

Strawberry Hill, by Mary Ann Hoberman, is a perfectly sweet and old-fashioned story that will delight fans of The Saturdays, Betsy-Tacy, and other classic favorites.

It is the Depression, so ten-year-old Allie's family has to move to a new town where her father can find work. When she hears that they will live on Strawberry Hill, Allie can hardly wa
it. Surely a place with such a name will make a perfect home! But the moving transition is harder than she expected and Allie spends the next year learning the true meaning of friendship and what it means to be a "best friend". The families that live on Strawberry Hill are by no means perfect and have their own troubles that are spot-lighted, but not dwelled upon.

The book is full of darling and pitch-perfect lines like when Allie is looking for a place to hide her lucky aggie, "Finally I had decided to put it under my mattress, just like 'The Princess and the Pea.' Afterward, I had lain down on my bed to see if I could feel it, but I couldn't because I wasn't a princess."

It's a treat to have such a novel from Mary Ann Hoberman, whose poetry and picture books are perennially wonderful. Thank you, for straying from your norm to give us this gift!