It’s fall and a few leaves are turning in the park. I picked up a bright yellow maple the other day on the old bridle trail and stashed it in my bag. Today it was a crumpled brown mess. But Lois Ehlert figured out how to collect leaves that fade too soon. She color copies them as soon as she gets home–her copier must be amazing because the leaves that are the images in her picture book, Leaf Man, are brilliant and detailed. Leaf Man is charming and very educational. The book is crammed with points of interest and magical things to discover. It’s very large, for starters, and the pages are serrated at the top in graduated leaf edges. There are layers of color like piles of autumn leaves at the top of every page.
Leaf Man has grabbed a random wind out of the yard and is headed for places unknown. The figure, an arrangement of leaves and acorns that could be a man if you supply some imagination, comes undone and flies past the chickens. We begin a journey past all things autumn with Leaf Man. There are leaf ducks and geese in the marsh, leaf mice, pumpkins and squash in the fields, a leaf turkey, some leaf potatoes, carrots and cabbages, a leaf rabbit in the prairie meadows, a spotted cow or two, fish and turtles in the lake. Every double spread is vivid with leaf figures to puzzle out–absolutely captivating. You could engage a little kid for an hour with this book. (You would be engaged, too, of course, but you probably wouldn’t mind.)
At the end of the journey there is a mystery and a possibility. You should rush right out at that point and go on a leaf hunt of your own. But if the colors aren’t there yet, explore the author’s note about how she collected leaves to make this book and check out the wonderful identified leaves and “mystery” leaves, all labelled. Perfect book for autumn. And absolutely gorgeous. Leaf Man slows down the rush of changing seasons to a reflective, able-to-savor-it pace.
Leaf Man (Ala Notable Children’s Books. Younger Readers (Awards)) Lois Ehlert | Harcourt 2005