September is a time of returning. Returning to routines, to school, returning home from travels and vacations. Migratory creatures begin returning to warmer spaces, and daylight and nightfall return to more familiar cadences after the sun’s wild excesses of summertime.
The books I’ve chosen for this month fall into two categories: a few cozy autumnal reads to sprinkle into your reading stacks over the next month or two, and a trove of interesting true books to capitalize on the spirit of discovery that accompanies the school year’s fresh start.
Lawrence in the Fall, written by Matthew Farina, illustrated by Doug Salati
published in 2019 by Disney Hyperion
A gorgeous, fall-in-the-forest color palette, the lovely scruffiness of nature’s textures, and just the right amount of charm flood the pages of this handsome account.
Relatable worries, a dash of danger, a tender father-son relationship, the glory of the forest, and a sunny ending make it a dynamite read for ages 4 and up.
Possum’s Harvest Moon, written and illustrated by Anne Hunter
published in 1996 by Houghton Mifflin Company
Possum is hosting a Harvest Soiree, “one last dance in the moonlight before the long winter.” The lanterns are lit and the berries gathered. Now he’s off to invite his guests.
Everyone is too busy with preparations for winter, though, leaving Possum alone at the party, until that great harvest moon arises and entices one and all to join the celebration. Gentle, luminous, lovely illustrations and a fetching, friendly tale. Ages 3 and up.
Every Autumn Comes the Bear, written and illustrated by Jim Arnosky
published in 1993 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons
This old favorite from the pen and brush of naturalist Arnosky introduces a bear who annually ambles about the woods in this rugged, autumnal landscape.
I love the minimal text, nose-to-nose images, and quiet beauty here. Ages 2 and up.
Quimble Wood, written by N.M. Bodecker, illustrated by Branka Starr
published in 1981 by MacAdam/Cage
This short, vintage chapter book spins a tale of four tiny quimbles, “each no bigger than your little finger,” and the mighty adventures that transpire when their carrying box accidentally tumbles out of the car and they are forced to fend for themselves in the wilderness.
It’s a delightful, imaginative read-aloud for ages 5 and up, illustrated with delicate graphite drawings. Don’t miss the author blurb on this one!
There are lots more delectable books for Fall in my Autumn Stories list so do check them out.
Zero is the Leaves on the Tree, written by Betsy Franco, illustrated by Shino Arihara
published in 2009 by Tricycle Press
Lovely, quiet, intriguing. Explore the concept of zero with a happily diverse group of children…
…in luscious outdoor settings throughout the year. Then watch your little ones search for “zero” in the world around them. Ages 3 and up.
Crow Not Crow, written by Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple, illustrated by Elizabeth Dulemba
published in 2019 by The Cornell Publishing Group
Experienced birders Yolen and Stemple pare the complications of bird identification wayyy back with their ingenuous method.
Choosing just one bird — a crow — the young girl in our story learns to really look closely and distinguish whether the birds she spots are Crows, or Not Crows. The idea is to extend this method to one bird after another. Back matter describes several more species and there’s an app for hearing the bird calls. Ages 5 and up.
Home, Sweet Home, written by Moira Butterfield, illustrated by Clair Rossiter
American edition published in 2019 by Kane Miller
This sunny peek at all the different pieces that make up our homes, from roofs to kitchens, gardens to bedrooms, and the ways those vary around the world, is inviting and intriguing. Plus, the conversation-starter questions within the narration brilliantly engage young listeners.
I appreciated how the text respects differences and is careful to say that “some” people in each of these areas live like this. Great choice for ages 4 and up.
Encyclopedia of Strangely Named Animals: Volume One, written by Fredrik Colting and Melissa Medina, illustrated by Vlad Stankovic
published in 2019 by Moppet Books
Lively, factual, and entertaining paragraphs, and colorful watercolor illustrations introduce us to 28 creatures with unusual and tantalizing names!
Come meet the Moustached Puffbird, the Sarcastic Fringehead, a spider called Sparklemuffin, and the Gorilla Gorilla Gorilla. No kidding, these are their names! Make your world a bit larger and a lot more fun. Ages 5 and up.
Smile: How Young Charlie Chaplin Taught the World to Laugh (and Cry), written by Gary Golio, illustrated by Ed Young
published in 2019 by Candlewick Press
A majorly talented author-illustrator team introduces us to a brilliant performer whose challenging childhood propelled him onto the stage.
Golio’s dynamic narrative and Young’s sizzling illustrations will captivate kids ages 6 and up. Then you’ll want to watch some of his classic films together based on the recommendations included.
A Dream of Flight: Alberto Santos-Dumont’s Race Around the Eiffel Tower, written by Rob Polivka and Jef Polivka, illustrated by Rob Polivka
published in 2019 by Farrar Straus Giroux
From boyhood, Alberto Santos-Dumont was bewitched by the dream of flight. As an inventor, he persevered through numerous iterations of his massive airships, punctuated by crashes and disappointments a-plenty.
But he finally met with a sterling success. This account fascinated me! Well-told and jauntily illustrated, it’ll help spark fierce determination in kids ages 7 and up.
The Bluest of Blues: Anna Atkins and the First Book of Photographs, written and illustrated by Fiona Robinson
published in 2019 by Abrams Books for Young Readers
A dream of a book. The poetry of the artwork, awash in blue, swimming in oceanscapes and botanical wonders, sweeps us into this account of an amazing woman — scientist, artist, discoverer — starting right off with the sublime endpapers.
I love this book’s invitation to observe nature carefully and appreciatively, to stir together science and art. Buy some solar paper so you’re ready to create your own solar pictures after you read about Anna’s trailblazing work. Ages 7-8 and up.
Two Brothers, Four Hands: The Artists Alberto and Diego Giacometti, written by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, illustrated by Hadley Hooper
published in 2019, Neal Porter Books, Holiday House
Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan are top-notch biographers for young people. Here they introduce an unusual partnership between two Swiss brothers…
one who became an iconic sculptor, one who acted as his shop assistant yet developed an extraordinary portfolio of sculpturesque furniture as well. Gorgeous artwork by Hadley Hooper makes every page pop! Fascinating for ages 8 and up.
Before They Were Authors: Famous Writers as Kids, written and illustrated by Elizabeth Haidle
published in 2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
This fabulous, graphic-novel style presentation sparkles with interesting nuggets of information about the childhoods and road to writing of ten famous authors.
Meet Mark Twain, Maya Angelou, J.K. Rowling, C.S. Lewis, and lots more. Such a superb collection! Kids who love to read and kids who yearn to write will equally eat up this book! Ages 9-10 and up.
Liberty Arrives!: How America’s Grandest Statue Found Her Home, written and illustrated by Robert Byrd
published in 2019 by Dial Books for Young Readers
Robert Byrd is a non-fiction genius. This fascinating account is cram-jammed with bits and pieces I never knew as Byrd unreels the compelling story of how Lady Liberty journeyed from the germ of an idea, through her financing, construction, transport, and installation.
Such a timely book as the ideals ever-associated with this grand, welcoming figure are currently being battered in the public square. Fabulous read-together for kids ages 10 and up and their grown-ups.
Moles: The Superpower Field Guide, written by Rachel Poliquin, illustrated by Nicholas John Firth
published in 2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
This is the second of the superpower field guide’s I’ve seen and truly, they just make me gleeful!
They offer us gobs of information, presented cleverly, humorously, with such jaunty illustration and formatting. Hats off to the Field Guide crew for making the natural world a delicious space to explore, wooing us to know, appreciate, and protect even a creature as humble as a mole, who is “shaped like a potato. And not a new potato, all cute and round, but a plain old lumpy russet potato, the sort that sits in the bottom of your fridge, neglected and going a little spongy.” Don’t miss these, for ages 10-11 and up.