A golden leaf becomes a bone of contention in a springtime wood.
In the spring, shades of green are everywhere: “jungle green, laurel green, moss green, mint green, pine green, avocado green, and, of course, sap green”—and one golden leaf. When the animals notice it, each wants it “more than anything else in the world.” A warbler picks it, but then a chipmunk steals it, only to lose it to a mouse, who in turn surrenders it to a deer, before a fox snatches it. By this time the increasingly tattered leaf has been torn apart. Through summer and fall and into winter, the animals go about their lives, and when spring and all its greens returns again—along with that one golden leaf—they all know better than to try to claim it: “Their happiness was that it had come back to them after all.” Hall’s story is luscious in its use of language, if a bit abrupt in an early transition, and the lesson, while clear, is lightly applied. There is lots of room for Forsythe’s illustrations to shine—literally, as the golden leaf is rendered in gold leaf. It stands out startlingly against his soft-edged illustrations, which have the warm and comforting look of lithographs. Great painterly swaths of color background the serial theft of the leaf, causing its increasingly tattered state to be ever more apparent.
The gold-leaf golden leaf could easily be a gimmick, but understated, intentional design causes the book to rise above that—lovely. (Picture book. 4-7)