Friday, October 7, 2016

It's All about Autumn Leaves!


It’s “yellow time.” October has arrived! Soon the leaves around here will turn golden and red and orange…and swirl down from trees in an autumn breeze. How I love this time of year.

Today, I have two poems about autumn leaves…and reviews of three picture books on the same subject.

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Here is an autumn leaves poem that I wrote many years ago:

AUTUMN CELEBRATION 

In October, colored leaves
Fall from oak and maple trees—
Bright confetti shaken down
From their boughs. All over town
Trees are celebrating fall,
Decorating every wall,
Sidewalk, yard, and flowerbed
With pumpkin-orange, gold, and red.
We stand out in the falling leaves
And catch confetti on our sleeves,
In our hands and in our hair. 
We party till the trees are bare.


AUTUMN LEAVES
By Eve Merriam

Down
down
down

Red
yellow
brown

Autumn leaves tumble down,
Autumn leaves crumble down,
Autumn leaves bumble down,
Flaking and shaking,
Tumbledown leaves.

Click here to read the rest of the poem.


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YELLOW TIME
Written & illustrated by Lauren Stringer
Beach Lane Books, 2016

I have been an admirer of Lauren Stringer’s picture book art for years. I love how she captured the essence of a snowy day and evening in Cynthia Rylant’s SNOW (Harcourt, 2008) and the warmth and coziness of time spent indoors on a cold winter day and night in her book WINTER IS THE WARMEST SEASON (Harcourt, 2006).

In her newest book, YELLOW TIME, Stringer gives readers a colorful glimpse of “falling leaves” time of year. Stringer said that she first experienced “yellow time” when she moved from New York City to Minneapolis. She said the view of ash trees through her window “was suddenly transformed by a huge gust of wind into a rain of leaves that covered everything and turned the world yellow.” Stringer beautifully captures that experience through a childhood perspective. Many of the book’s illustrations are saturated with yellow. She uses soft, curving shapes to depict tree tops, boughs and tree trunks bending in the wind, the movements of children delighting in the fluttering and swirling and whooshing of leaves borne through the air on an autumn wind. 
Stringer’s text is spare. She uses her art to illuminate what “yellow time” is all about. It is a true celebration of that wondrous time of year that passes all too quickly.  Her book is a “symphony of yellow.”

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FLETCHER AND THE FALLING LEAVES
Written by Julia Rawlinson
Illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke
Greenwillow, 2006

It’s autumn. Fletcher, a young fox, notices that the world around him is changing. Every morning things seem “just a little bit different.”

The rich green of the forest was turning to a dusty gold, and the soft, swishing
sound of summer was fading to a crinkly whisper.

Fletcher becomes worried when his favorite tree begins to look dry and brown. He thinks the tree is sick and expresses concern to his mother. His mother explains that it’s “only autumn” and not to worry. Fletcher runs outside, pats his tree, and tells it that it will feel better soon.

Of course, the leaves on the tree continue to turn brown and fall from the branches. Fletcher catches a falling leaf and reattaches it to his tree--but the wind shakes the leaf loose again.

The next day, a strong wind blows through the forest, and the tree’s leaves are set flying. Fletcher’s upset when he sees a squirrel taking leaves for its nest and a porcupine using the fallen leaves to keep itself warm. Try as he might, Fletcher cannot save his tree from the inevitable. Finally, he clutches the last leaf as it flutters from the tree and takes it home--where he tucks it into a little bed of its own.

The following morning, Fletcher is awed by the sight of his tree, which is now hung with thousands of icicles shimmering in the early morning light. He wonders, though, if the tree is okay and asks: “But are you all right?” Fletcher is relieved when a breeze shivers the branches and the tree makes “a sound like laughter…” The little fox then hugs his tree and returns to his den for a “nice, warm breakfast.”

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves has a longer, more lyrical text than Oliver Finds His Way. Beeke’s soft-edged pastel illustrations capture the tone and setting of this comforting story and deftly convey the change of seasons as autumn turns to winter.
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THE LITTLE YELLOW LEAF
Written & illustrated by Carin Berger
Greenwillow, 2008

Carin Berger, who did the “bold” and brilliant collage illustrations for Jack Prelutsky’s Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant, hits a high note again with her art in The Little Yellow Leaf. Her illustrations in this book are inventive and striking. Berger even used composition and graph paper as the backdrop for some of her pictures. Her spare illustrations with changing perspectives and her lovely lyrical text partner well in this tale about finding strength in friendship.

The main character of this little allegory is a “Little Yellow Leaf.” It’s autumn. The LYL clings to a branch of “a great oak tree.” I’m not ready yet, thought the Little Yellow Leaf as a riot of fiery leaves chased and swirled round the tree.” No, the leaf isn’t ready to leave its home in the tree--even as the afternoon sun beckons--even…

as apples grew musky,
pumpkins heavy,
and flocks of geese
took wing.


Even when LYL sees that the other leaves have “gathered into heaps, crackly dry, where children played,” it isn’t willing to join them. And it still it isn’t ready to leave its home when a harvest moon blooms in an “amber” sky.

LYL holds fast to its branch through a long, cold night when snow falls. It holds fast as days pass. It looks and looks at the tree--but sees only the “shimmer of snow.” LYL is all alone. At least that’s what it thinks…until one day it spies a “scarlet flash” high up in the tree. It has a comrade! Both had been hesitant to cast off for the unknown. The Little Yellow Leaf and the Scarlet Leaf take courage in each other…set themselves free and soar.

Into the waiting wind they danced…
off and away and away and away.
Together.


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Violet Nesdoly has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week.

6 comments:

jama said...

What a beautiful celebration of October and autumn leaves! Love the poems and the three books you featured (all new to me). Looking forward to seeing that symphony of yellow for myself and since I'm especially partial to foxes, will enjoy reading about Fletcher.

Jane @ raincitylibrarian.wordpress.com said...

I love, love, love the Fletcher picture books - they're so sweet and gentle and loving, wonderful for sharing with little ones.

Kiesha Shepard said...

What great books and poems to capture this majestic season!

Violet Nesdoly said...

Thanks for the feast of autumn poems and books, Elaine! So much loveliness and imagination here.

Mary Lee said...

Our Ohio leaves have *just* begun to turn. I watch this process every year with amazement at the glory of their demise! I had my own Yellow Time experience with a gingko tree in our old neighborhood. One day it was completely blazing yellow, and the next, all that yellow was in a perfect circle beneath it and the tree was bare!

Monica said...

Time for a trip to the library!