A leaf's various purposes are contemplated in this gentle celebration of nature.
Fresh leaves burst forth in Salas’ opening stanza, followed by two- to four-word couplets listing a leaf’s many functions. This pattern continues for fall and winter, allowing her rhymed verse to reinforce the cyclical nature of the seasons. What pours forth in free-association–like fashion is sometimes poetic (“Wind rider / Lake glider”), oftentimes purposeful (“Air cleaner / Earth greener”) and mostly playful (“Frost catcher / “Moth matcher”). Dabija’s soft, ethereal illustrations lend a warmth and vibrancy to the text. Her palette, dictated by the weather, is full of lush greens, sultry browns, golden yellows and dusky blues. Through heavy use of the computer, she layers textures into varied patterns and shapes, giving each illustration an organic feel. While this effect is skillfully used on the backgrounds, it is less effective on the primary objects, leaving people and animals to appear pasted in, rather than integrated into the artwork. Compositionally, the images are nicely designed, but since one does not visually lead to the next, they are more like tableaux than a continuous visual narrative. An addendum explaining the author’s word choices (what does she mean by “mouth filler”?) is included, as well as a suggested reading list and glossary.
Simple and pleasing, with classroom-discussion and read-aloud appeal. (Picture book. 5-8)