Autumn’s arrival sends an oak leaf on a windswept adventure against dappled, pointillist-style paintings.
A leaf appears, distinct and crisp against the gauzy background. It’s an eye-catching burst of gold and umber that contrasts with the lovely, if unexpectedly spring-y, Monet-inspired pastel colors. As the text catalogs the leaf’s travels through settings both natural (“over freezing lake waters”) and built (blown about by a freight train), it’s odd that there are so few autumnal references. Some of the leaf’s adventures, such as wafting through a vividly crimson maple tree or glimpsing geese migrating, are topically seasonal, but others, like a visit to a calf or a momma fox, don’t feel as germane. As the oak leaf floats lower over the city, it’s caught and pressed in a book by a white girl, a pleasant conclusion that gives the leaf’s journey a feeling of completion, though the ending is hampered slightly by the child’s somewhat unfinished-looking face—the illustrator is clearly more adept at capturing sweeping natural scenes than portraits. Written with a quiet poeticism, concise lines such as “Up through the mist, away from the earth, up” establish a pensive tone that neatly matches the quiet tale, though the text isn’t exactly bursting with personality either.
It’s pretty to look at, but it’s too generic to be an essential addition to an autumnal-themed book collection.(Picture book. 5-7)