Leaves of orange, gold, and red shout from amid the last of summer’s fading green canvas.
Shy at first, then with a bold advance, the ripple of flaming colors races through the forest like a metachronal wave until the miserly hoarders of chlorophyll are too embarrassed to do much more than sulk. A carpet of leaves; a canopy of leaves—a crescendo of leaves. Sayre’s stunning photographic images sweep across each majestic double-page spread. The rhyming text meanders from one-word identifiers—“Midribs”—to ecstatic exclamations: “So many leaves!” However, the irregular meter occasionally sputters. “Fall is ending. // Goodbye, leaf show. / Winter is coming…. // Oh, / hello, snow!” Also, whereas critters and weather figured prominently in Sayre’s previous offerings, here they are very minor players and are sorely missed. There are cameo appearances by wind and sun and only four shots of fauna—two squirrels, a mallard, and a flight of geese. This absence, especially as this is the season when forest animals and insects are frenetically preparing for the cold, contributes to a sterility of tone despite the wonder of fall’s audacious palette. In addition, the decision to introduce the next season is disappointing. Spring kept its nose out of Best in Snow (2016), and instead of stealing fall’s thunder, winter should have done the same. Fortunately, nature’s glorious riot overpowers these missteps.
Young readers’ imaginations are sure to be fired by Sayre’s awe-inspiring photos and by the bite-sized science facts provided at the end of the book. (Informational picture book. 3-8)