A self-important leaf receives a joyful message of equality as fall arrives in Gold’s debut morality tale with illustrations by Gadra (Sneaking Treats, 2012).
In an oddly shaped tree with humanlike features, a single leaf has the highest perch, where he can see more than any of his fellows. At first, the others are excited to know what he can observe, which includes distant smoke and schoolchildren (mostly in black-and-white sketches but with flares of color that enhance the images). But the leaf develops an unpleasant attitude, demanding that others call him “Top Leaf.” A smaller leaf below says, “You’re only at the top by chance. What makes you think you’re so special?” When autumn comes, Top Leaf refuses to fall, believing that he’ll no longer be important. The smaller leaf is excited to go, however; Top Leaf humbles himself to ask if they can fall together and finds that having a friend feels better than feeling important. Gadra’s spare illustrations, with their limited use of color, support the simplicity of the narrative, which uses approachable, straightforward language. It subtly shows how some people have lucky advantages—but that doesn’t make them better; everyone faces the same end.
A beautiful way to introduce the concept of privilege to young readers as well as share ideas about treating others well.