McCarty distills a crisp essence of late fall into a few familiar images: a bouncy ride home on the school bus, an impromptu game of football (the American kind) amid piles of leaves, the first flakes of snow in early dusk and the cozy warmth of the house after play.
A slightly diverse group of pink-cheeked and well-scrubbed primary-grade children (two girls and eight boys, including Bobby with his football and Jimmy, whose attempt at creating a tidy pile of leaves is certain to be thwarted) looks sweetly like an array of young hedgehogs. They have spiky hair and round bodies and are so kinetic that they seem to move in a tumble above the ground. Textured lines and muted colors in the children’s clothes and the flying leaves combine with the substantial creamy paper to make each lighthearted spread sweetly inviting, so tactile and alive that one can almost imagine the smell of autumn leaves in the air. The spare text, perfectly pitched for a preschool audience, offers just enough to support the illustrations and for pre-readers to revisit and retell the story. Even listeners without Bobby’s passion for football will find the afternoon’s outdoor recreation appealing, and adult readers may remember the delights of independent, child-organized group play.
A likable ode to the perennial pleasures of autumn and friends. (Picture book. 2-5)