Fall blows in with a stunning new picture book by Lois Ehlert, the Caldecott-winning illustrator of Color Zoo and the creator of Color Farm and Circus. Ehlert, who hails from Wisconsin (where there is an abundance of autumn leaves for inspiration), has also illustrated books by other writers, including Crocodile Smile by Sarah Weeks and A Pair of Socks by Stuart J. Murphy. In her new work, Ehlert celebrates the astonishing variety and beauty of autumn leaves. The story line follows the journey of Leaf Man, who used to live in a pile of nearby leaves, but has now been caught by the wind and blown here and there. After all, A Leaf Man's got to go where the wind blows. The narrator imagines the leaf's journey in a clever, beautifully designed book that features leaf collages in bright colors and die-cut pages with scalloped or zig-zagged edges. The varying heights of the edges provide an ever-changing visual feast as each page is turned. The leaf collages illuminate the text, combining to create meadows, vegetables, a turkey, the fanciful shape of a leaf cow, or a pensive Leaf Man looking down at the Earth from high in the sky.
In a note, Ehlert states, "Whenever I see a beautiful leaf, I have to pick it up. . . . When I began thinking about making Leaf Man, I carried a plastic bag with me, picking up treasures wherever I went sweet gum fruit from Kansas City, oak leaves from Ithaca, fig leaves from Washington, D.C. and color-copying them as soon as possible." Ehlert's attention to detail is reflected in the book's endpapers, which include illustrations of leaves with captions detailing the names of the trees they come from. Young readers will love picking out the whimsical shapes and designs on each page. And nature lovers young and old will treasure this imaginative, timeless celebration of autumn leaves.
Deborah Hopkinson's new book, From Slave to Soldier, was recently awarded an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award.