Oh, fall. I knew you were coming, but somehow you still managed to sneak up on me, with your windy weather and your ever-so-rainy days. Last week Hubs and I scrambled in vain to get a backyard project finished, one we've been working on for most of the summer, but alas, we didn't quite make it before the blustery weather roared in. (Holding out hope for a respite in the rain later this week.)
In all honesty, though, fall is my favorite season. I'm an October baby, and that's probably why I love most of the aspects of this time of year: crisp fall days, soup simmering on the stove, visits to the pumpkin patch, baking pie with juicy fresh-picked apples. And in the interest of full disclosure, I should admit that I don't really even mind the rainy days, because those give me one more excuse to snuggle inside on the couch with a good book -- like I need one more excuse. :)
We have a lot of favorite fall titles around here, but we're always looking for another to add to our roster. This year we rounded up an older title, Julia Rawlinson's Fletcher and the Falling Leaves. This one was new to Sprout, though it's a title I'd read before. Honestly the first time I read it, I wasn't that impressed - but I can say that reading this with my own kiddo gave me a fresh perspective, and I realized I'd misjudged it somehow. (Hey, it happens, and I'm okay with admitting when I'm wrong.)
Sprout thoroughly enjoyed this story of a little fox named Fletcher and the changes that come to his favorite tree. Fletcher notices that something's up when the leaves of the tree starting turning colors and getting crinkly, but it's when the leaves begin to fall to the ground that Fletcher gets really worried. He looks for solutions to put the leaves back on the tree, but Fletcher's ingenuity is no match for the strong autumn winds. Try as he might, Fletcher can't save his friend's leaves - but he discovers that, for a tree, losing leaves is not only inevitable, it also might bring something even better.
Rawlinson's story is a gentle introduction into the topic of change and dealing with loss, something that I think is important for all kids. This is an excellent way to begin discussing these subjects, along with the notion that sometimes the changes we fear turn out for the best after all. The illustrations by Tiphanie Beeke are one of the best parts of Fletcher's story - awash with light and subtle color, Beeke's spreads set off the smudgy fox and his friends to good effect. It's clear that Beeke spent some time studying nature before she did these pictures, as those color choices reflect a knowledge of what trees really look like, for example. And of course the final spread is full of wow factor, which you know if you've read this one (if you haven't, I'm not spoiling it for you!).
I'm quite glad I gave this one a second chance. The combination of Rawlinson's sensitive story and Beeke's pictures make this a real winner for any autumn bookshelf. Grab a cup of tea, a warm blanket and Fletcher and the Falling Leaves, for a cozy fall read-aloud session that you and your kiddos will love!
Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson, published by Greenwillow Books
Sample: "The world was changing. Each morning, when Fletcher bounded out of the den, everything seemed just a little bit different. The rich green of the forest was turning to a dusty gold, and the soft, swiching sound of summer was fading to a crinkly whisper. Fletcher's favorite tree looked dull, dry, and brown. Fletcher was beginning to get worried."