A touching portrait of the fall season from two superb artists.

IN THE MIDDLE OF FALL

Author-illustrator duo Henkes and Dronzek extol the quiet splendors of autumn in this lyrical, exquisite complement to their previous seasonal outing, When Spring Comes (2016).

Its crown full of reddish-orange leaves, a tree stands against a gray sky. “In the middle of Fall, / when the leaves / have already turned,” the narrator begins. Measured and understated, Henkes’ text masterfully raises and stirs moods and sensations in pieces, each building on top of the other. A fair-skinned child in a red hooded sweatshirt and yellow boots sits on a swing, a brown dog sitting on the ground nearby. Squirrels scurry about, gardens wither, and pumpkins “are ready” as various children pluck them off the ground. All it takes is “just one big gust of wind,” says the wistful narrator, and suddenly “everything is yellow / and red / and orange.” Solid lines and deep autumnal colors abound in Dronzek’s gorgeous acrylic illustrations, which fill the spaces left untouched by the text. In pace and richness, text and pictures dreamily embody the essence of fall, which in this book marks a transition both bittersweet and inevitable. Enjoy the child and dog at play throughout these autumn landscapes, because before either of them knows it (and perhaps before readers realize it as well), change will come again.

A touching portrait of the fall season from two superb artists. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-257311-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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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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