This combination of poetry and art in praise of the familiar, natural world is sweetly, successfully dazzling.

WHEN GREEN BECOMES TOMATOES

POEMS FOR ALL SEASONS

Forty-eight short poems follow the four seasons, beginning and concluding on March 20, a bird singing, “each tweet poking / a tiny hole / through the edge of winter,” as spring comes round again.

Fogliano’s intimate, graceful verse and Morstad’s precise, bright illustrations evoke the ways that weather, water, sky, and growing things change throughout the year. Fogliano catalogs both dramatic and quotidian pleasures and acknowledges the boredom that comes with too much mud, rain, or winter. Each poem is dated, as in a journal; every word, including the pronoun “I,” is lowercase; commas, parentheses, and occasional sets of quotation marks are the only punctuation. These quietly conversational poems include moments of lively energy—wind on a hilltop or the jubilant dizziness of a summer meadow. Morstad’s exquisite gouache-and–pencil-crayon art is well-matched to the delicacy of the poetry. A lovely young girl with straight black hair and brown skin appears alone or with friends throughout; readers may identify her as the voice in many of the poems. Bright flowers lean on slender stalks; in a double-page spread that evokes Time of Wonder, stars wink in the vastness of a late-summer sky. The tiniest points of color draw the eye so that even mud and snow are hardly dreary.

This combination of poetry and art in praise of the familiar, natural world is sweetly, successfully dazzling. (Picture book/poetry. 4-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-59643-852-1

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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A hilarious autumnal comedy of errors.

THE LEAF THIEF

A confused squirrel overreacts to the falling autumn leaves.

Relaxing on a tree branch, Squirrel admires the red, gold, and orange leaves. Suddenly Squirrel screams, “One of my leaves is…MISSING!” Searching for the leaf, Squirrel tells Bird, “Someone stole my leaf!” Spying Mouse sailing in a leaf boat, Squirrel asks if Mouse stole the leaf. Mouse calmly replies in the negative. Bird reminds Squirrel it’s “perfectly normal to lose a leaf or two at this time of year.” Next morning Squirrel panics again, shrieking, “MORE LEAVES HAVE BEEN STOLEN!” Noticing Woodpecker arranging colorful leaves, Squirrel queries, “Are those my leaves?” Woodpecker tells Squirrel, “No.” Again, Bird assures Squirrel that no one’s taking the leaves and that the same thing happened last year, then encourages Squirrel to relax. Too wired to relax despite some yoga and a bath, the next day Squirrel cries “DISASTER” at the sight of bare branches. Frantic now, Squirrel becomes suspicious upon discovering Bird decorating with multicolored leaves. Is Bird the culprit? In response, Bird shows Squirrel the real Leaf Thief: the wind. Squirrel’s wildly dramatic, misguided, and hyperpossessive reaction to a routine seasonal event becomes a rib-tickling farce through clever use of varying type sizes and weights emphasizing his absurd verbal pronouncements as well as exaggerated, comic facial expressions and body language. Bold colors, arresting perspectives, and intense close-ups enhance Squirrel’s histrionics. Endnotes explain the science behind the phenomenon.

A hilarious autumnal comedy of errors. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7282-3520-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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