Posts Tagged ‘autumn’

It’s no secret that autumn is my favorite season. I only wish we could spread it out much longer.

Grab some spiced cider, a cinnamon doughnut, and a batch of prime autumnal books and revel in all things fall!

Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter, written and illustrated by Kenard Pak
published in 2017 by Godwin Books, Henry Holt and Company

Kenard Pak does it again! I loved his transition from Summer to Autumn (reviewed here), and this look at a world gradually moving from late autumn’s windswept branches to the first dustings of snow is equally gorgeous.

Pak’s pristine illustrations capture that nip in the air, the spare beauty of late autumn when fragments of color and life linger amid increasingly barren trees, dry seedpods, long shadows, shivering nights. I love that he focuses here on that bridge time rather than the full-on splendor of fall we find in most autumnal books. Outdoor rambling at its best for ages 2 and up.

In the Middle of Fall, written by Kevin Henkes, illustrated by Laura Dronzek
published in 2017 by Greenwillow Books

Kevin Henkes spins just two sentences into a lovely whirl of tumbling fall leaves and sprinklings of snowflakes in this cheerful ode to autumn.

Take notice! Drink in those riotous colors. Enjoy those frisketing squirrels. Soon that slight chill in the air will turn to brrrrr-coldness and we’ll arrive in winter.

Laura Dronzek’s bold shapes, close-up perspectives, and saturated colors envelop us in the cozy beauties of the natural world. Perfection for ages 18 months and up.

Full of Fall, written and photographed by April Pulley Sayre
published in 2017 by Beach Lane Books

April Pulley Sayre continues her superb run of nature-infused, photographic splendors that treat young children to the beauties of the outdoors accompanied by a dignified, rhyming text.

I love the way Sayre respects young minds with her work. There’s nothing juvenile or cutesy here. Just the glories of the woodlands in autumn to soak up with children as young as under-Two.  Two additional pages discuss the science of pigments, leaf structure, decomposition, and more, geared to ages 6 or 7 and up.

Woody, Hazel and Little Pip, written and illustrated by Elsa Beskow
originally published in Sweden in 1939; first English edition 1990 by Floris Books

Swedish favorite Elsa Beskow created marvelous stories populated by all manner of fanciful woodland sorts — elves, fairies, gnomes, trolls, blueberry children, Frost Kings…

This story finds two adventurous brothers — Woody and Little Pip Acorn — gliding away from home on a whirling, twirling leaf, landing in a peck of trouble, and gamely making the best of it, trolls and all. Their friend Hazel hitches a ride on a neighborhood squirrel in search of them and runs into her own batch of escapades.

Unlike Peter Rabbit’s mama, Mrs. Acorn and Mrs. Hazelnut throw a party when these naughty children return! Charming as ever, this is a longer-than-usual picture book story for patient listeners ages 3 and up.

Our Apple Tree, written by Görel Kristina Näslund, illustrated by Kristina Digman
first published in Sweden; American edition published in 2005 by Roaring Brook Press

Capturing a pinch of the same elfkin vibe of Beskow, this Swedish story traces the life of an apple tree through one cycle of seasons, from winter snows through blossoms and straight on through to a golden-crusted apple pie. Yum!

Two tiny apple-elves who call this tree home are our guides on this quaint, gentle journey. A recipe for Apple Crisp is included. Ages 2 and up.

There are many more book-treasures for Autumn reading listed in my Subject Index. Enjoy!



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Oooh. Autumn is my favorite season.


And everything wonderful about fall — the brisk air and crisp leaves, coolness and coziness, smoke in the air and spiced cider in my mug — gets prime treatment in autumn-themed picture books. There are so many beauties out there! Here are five stand-outs:

yellow-time-cover-imageYellow Time, written and illustrated by Lauren Stringer
published in 2016 by Beach Lane Books

Minneapolis author-illustrator Lauren Stringer knows the core, heart-of-goodness about the seasons and loves to show us an unusual perspective on them as she’s demonstrated before. (See her magnificent Winter is the Warmest Season, reviewed here.)


Her newest title exults in fall. Yellow time. Yes, those maples turn crimson and flame, but look again. The birches and aspen and ash simply glow in the autumn sunshine, a fluttering, spangly yellow mass. Breathtaking. “A symphony of yellow,” Stringer says. You folks in Colorado know all about this, don’t you.


Stringer’s pristine, lyrical text bursts with yellow joy and her illustrations swoosh an exaltation of yellow happiness across every page. I love this book! Ages 2 and up.

wonderfall-cover-imageWonderfall, written and illustrated by Michael Hall
published in 2016 by Greenwillow Books

This book is delight-fally clever!

Michael Hall has played on words and played with words to bring us 15 clever word-inventions and teeny poems celebrating fall.

Explore this beautifall…




plentifall, resourcefall time of year as we move from late summer to the first snow of winter. A bold autumn palette, simplified shapes, and spare text create a warm, quiet, glad collection, perfect to share with children ages 3 and up.

goodbye-summer-hello-autumn-cover-imageGoodbye Summer, Hello Autumn, written and illustrated by Kenard Pak
published in 2016 by Henry Holt and Company

One little girl takes a walk, through woodland and field, past stream and into town, greeting everyone and everything she sees along the way.

Foxes, birds, beavers and insects — all are busy preparing for fall. Even the flowers and clouds, the wind and air flaunt changes that signal a new season.


By the time she’s made her rounds, we’ve walked from late summer into chill autumn and right back into her snug house.


Such a pleasant journey. One of the things I love best about this book is the racial diversity in a non-urban setting. Her community is a quaint village nestled in the woods — Stars Hollow, if you will — and Kenard Pak has peopled it with a lovely array of skin tones. Thank you! Share it with children ages 2 and up.

hocus-pocus-its-fall-cover-imageHocus Pocus, It’s Fall!, written by Anne Sibley O’Brien, illustrated by Susan Gal
published in 2016 by Abrams Appleseed

Following their magical springtime treat (Abracadabra, It’s Spring! reviewed here), this dynamite team has cooked up some hocus pocus for fall! Hurray!

Immerse yourselves in the glory of autumn with Gal’s swimmy, spattery, rosy, cozy renditions of apple picking, milkweed bursting, leaf reddening, jack-o-lantern carving, fall days.

Each two-page spread holds the start of a clever poem, with a magical flourish…


“Busy squirrels fill their cheeks. Abba zabba!”

…and a gate-fold page that opens to reveal the presto! change-o!  surprise fulfillment of the scene:


“Food for weeks!”

Splendid and jolly for ages 18 months and older.

fall-ball-cover-imageFall Ball, written and illustrated by Peter McCarty
published in 2013 by Henry Holt and Company

If you’re looking for something a tad more rough and rowdy, you can’t go wrong with Bobby and his pudgy, round-faced, hedgehog-haired crew!

These kids love heading home from school because they’re chomping at the bit to get outside and PLAY! Hurrah for them!


Time for a little pick-up football. Add an earnest, grabby dog and a gargantuan pile of leaves and you’ve got all the ingredients for a lovely spot of mayhem.

Only a little, though. For as you know, dusk comes mighty early in the fall. That’s okay because other Cozy Bits  come right along with nightfall for this lovable bunch. Charming, for ages 3 and up.

There are lots more autumn reads in my Subject Index under Science: Seasons. Grab a cinnamon doughnut and settle in!

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autumn-maple-tree-110661300192097PsxFall officially arrived weeks ago, but just now the maples in my backyard are ablaze with that glorious color we love.

Here are five lovely picture books that capture the beauty and transience of autumn.


Say It! cover imageSay It! by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrated by Charlotte Voake
originally published in 1980; published with new illustrations in 2015 by Candlewick Press

This enduring story by Zolotow simply lets us eavesdrop on a conversation between a mom and her little girl as they walk together on a “golden, windy autumn day” Kicking up leaves, watching the spattered reflections in a pond, soaking up the chill air, blowing milkweed seeds about…it’s just the sort of leisurely, nature-infused walk that’s good for the soul.

Say It illustration2 Charlotte Voake

All along the way, the little girl begs her mother to, “Say it!” Mother responds with exuberant, language-lush exclamations about the beauty of the day, but that’s not quite what this child is waiting for. What are the magic words she wants to hear?

Say It illustration Charlotte Voake

Charlotte Voake’s new illustrations surround us in a blowsy, apricot-warm, swirl, with her marvelously gentle, carefree line sweeping and dipping right along with those scurrying leaves. A dear story for ages 3 and up.

Baby Bear Counts One cover imageBaby Bear Counts One, written and illustrated by Ashley Wolff
published in 2013 by Beach Lane Books

Ashley Wolff’s bold, richly-colored prints will draw you into this storybook like the aroma of a robust cup of coffee, or maybe the waft of hot chocolate if that’s your preference.

Mama bear and her busy cub are almost ready to den up for the season. As they lumber around their woodsy neighborhood, Baby Bear hears many curious noises — kerploppings and honkings, thockity-thockings and whappings. What are they? Who is making them?

Baby Bear Counts One illustration Ashley Wolff

As Mama introduces him to the various animals who are all preparing for winter, Baby Bear counts them, and you can, too, until finally we arrive at some wintertime visitors that are too many to count.

Baby Bear Counts One illustration2 Ashley Wolff

Gorgeous illustrations and a perfect text for young children, ages under-Two and up.

Winter is Coming cover imageWinter is Coming, by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Jim LaMarche
published in 2015 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Despite the title, this book is a splendid autumn treat, gently walking through the months from September to late November.

The quiet, descriptive narration comes from a young girl, maybe 8 years old, a budding naturalist. With her nature sketchbook and drawing supplies, binoculars and thermos of cocoa, she ventures into the woods to observe the animals preparing for winter. So, right from the get-go, I love the whole notion of this story, the freedom, the out-of-doorsness, the connection to Nature.

Winter is Coming interior2 Johnston and LaMarche

As luck would have it, she manages to spy quite a lot of wildlife! Rabbits and chipmunks, yes, but also a skunk family, a bear and her cub, and even a lynx from afar! She tells what she observes and thinks about them in a lyrical, ambling sort of way. That’s the whole text of the book.

Winter is Coming interior Johnston and LaMarche

Jim LaMarche’s illustrations — acrylics, colored pencil, and opaque ink — are gorgeous, capturing the grandeur, the wonder, the serenity, the chilly atmosphere, the texture of dry grasses and soft fur…just everything. He brings us right into this little glade so we can feel the nip on our cheeks and smell the forest floor.

A beautiful enticement towards the natural world for ages 4 and up.

The Apple Doll cover imageThe Apple Doll, written and illustrated by Elisa Kleven
published in 2007 by Farrar Straus Giroux

Lizzy is starting school this fall, and she’s quite nervous about that. What she mainly loves to do is play imaginative games in the apple tree in her yard with her cat for a companion. Sounds good to me.

Her bright idea is to make a little, rustic doll out of an apple and a twig. She names it Susanna, and plans to take it to school as a secret companion. This does not work out as well as she hopes.

The Apple Doll illustration Elisa Kleven

As the days grow colder and Lizzy’s family is busy canning and drying apples for winter, the idea of making a dried-apple dollapple doll photograph Elisa Kleven emerges. Lizzy and her mama work together peeling and soaking, crafting and accessorizing, until her new-and-improved Susanna is ready to return to school.

This time, she’s quite a hit!

Elisa Kleven’s trademark sunshiny, confetti-colored illustrations stream joy through even the wobbliest of Lizzy’s days. Detailed instructions for making your own dried-apple doll are included. Ages 4 and up.

George Flies South cover imageGeorge Flies South, written and illustrated by Simon James
first U.S. edition published in 2011 by Candlewick Press

Winter is on the way. Trees are losing their leaves. Birds are heading south. But George does not feel quite ready to fly.

However!!…when Mom pops off for just a moment to fetch some worms, a sudden whoosh of a breeze takes matters into its own hands, so to speak, lifting George, nest and all, off his limb and twirly-whirly through the air.

George Flies South interior Simon James

From one unexpected landing place to the next, George is carried right along, while his anxious mother valiantly tries to keep up with him and coax him into flying on his own. It’s quite a dicey journey! In the scariest moment of all, George’s nest disintegrates mid-air and…oh dear!…will George get the hang of this flying thing in time?!

George Flies South illustration Simon James

Spoiler alert: It’s a happy ending.

An adventurous story with a spicy dash of suspense, delightfully illustrated in Simon James’ energetic, willy-nilly, Quentin Blake-ish style. Ages 3 and up.

There are lots more autumn-themed books in the archives. Search the Subject index under Seasons.

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poetry friday

fall folk artAutumn Train
by Mildred D. Shacklett

Autumn is a train that travels
From Summerland to Winterville —
Mellow apples, yellow pumpkins
And sweet brown nuts its freight cars fill;

Flying fast its hot breath changes
The green of leaves to red and gold,
And when it pulls up at the station
Then children know ’twill soon grow cold.

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What a incredible capture of the heartaching beauty of autumn…


God’s World
by Edna St. Vincent Millay


jack-hollingsworth-stream-in-autumn-woods from allposters dot comO World, I cannot hold thee close enough!
Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
Thy mists, that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with color! That gaunt crag
To crush! To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!

Long have I known a glory in it all,
But never knew I this;
Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart, — Lord, I do fear
Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me, — let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.

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poetry friday

I have a few old-fashioned riddles for you today. The authors are unknown.

child silhouetteRiddle:

First they dress in green,
Then they change this gown,
And each one is seen,
Red, or gold, or brown.

What is it?



child silhouette2First it was a pretty flower, dressed in pink and white,
Then it was a tiny ball, almost hid from sight.
Round and green and large it grew — then it turned to red.
It will make a splendid pie for your Thanksgiving Spread.

What is it?



children silhouette3It made a rustling sound
As softly through the leaves it blew,
But now it roughly swirls around
And seems to say: “Boo-oo.”
What is it?


(In case you need answers, they are: leaves, apple, and wind! Enjoy this autumn week-end!)

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Here in Minneapolis, fall is still just teasing us. A spray of gold here, a spill of cranberry sumac there, an occasional dab of fiery orange, but not full-flung glory quite yet. It’s my favorite season of the year, hands down, and I could happily do several lists-full of pumpkin-spice-flavored-books, but here, at least, are five:

applesauce season cover image gersteinApplesauce Season, by Eden Ross Lipson, illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein

This season’s apples are arriving in the markets and their names are like a bushelful of poetry — Paula Red and Jonagold, Macintosh and Black Twig. This little boy and his family — in particular, grandmother — are ready to cook up delicious potfuls of applesauce, an annual tradition in their household.

Making applesauce carries a joy in the process and the end result. Marketing together, choosing pounds and pounds of apples, chopping and cooking, sugaring and spicing, mashing and tasting, until it’s just right, are joyful tasks.applesauce season illustration mordicai gerstein

Then comes the eating, in a bowlful or atop ice cream, wrapped up in a crepe or stirred into a fragrant batch of gingerbread. Yummmm!

In all the work, and all the eating, the love of family, of working together, of carrying on traditions, of sharing the table with neighbors, of appreciating the subtle and striking flavors of our food — all this is part of what makes applesauce season so lovely. This was Eden Ross Lipson’s only children’s book, and what a treat it is. 

Mordicai Gerstein’s warm, jubilant illustrations emphasize all sorts of apple-y colors — reds, golds, and tart greens, and the luscious pink of that applesauce. Loose, sketchy lines and comfy people without pretense communicate a lovely homeliness. Included is a recipe for applesauce that I am hankering to try!  Ages 4 and up.

sneeze big bear sneeze cover image hillenbrandSneeze, Big Bear, Sneeze! by Maureen Wright, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand

It’s a windy, fall day, and a lovable, bumbling bear is walking through the forest.  Suddenly…ah-choo! says Bear, while at the same moment, a stiff breeze comes along and whirls some leaves off the branch overhead.

Oops! I did that, thinks Bear. As he valiantly nails the leaves back in place, the wind tries to explain matters, but Bear is certain he is to blame.sneeze big bear sneeze illustration will hillenbrand

Next, Bear lets out a sneeze just as the wind rustles the branches of an apple tree, knocking the fruit onto the ground. Again, Bear is sure his sneeze is responsible, and nothing the wind says can sway him. When Bear also takes credit for the flight of  some geese, it’s time for wind to unfurl his biggest, most blustery voice and make sure Bear understands how an autumn breeze works.  And when Bear understands — there’s really only one thing for him to do!

Charming, silly book, full of autumnal gales, well-suited to preschoolers who’ll giggle at Bear’s foolishness. Will Hillenbrand’s mixed media illustrations capture Bear’s endearing self, as well as a marvelously engaging wind, Affection and pandemonium and loads of personality fill the pages.

autumn an alphabet acrostic cover image evansAutumn: An Alphabet Acrostic, by Steven Schnur, illustrated by Leslie Evans


Combine poetry, acrostics, the alphabet, and autumn, with gorgeous linoleum block prints and you get this  beautiful, creative book.

What does an alphabet acrostic look like? Here’s the first one.  A is for Acorn:

A single seed
Can feed a squirrel
Or grow into a giant oak that
Rains down new
Nuts every autumn.

There’s a full page for each letter, with the word running down in bold red letters autumn an alphabet acrostic illustration leslie evansand a clever, poetic acrostic built from it.  Seasonal thoughts about everything from  bats to knitting needles, jars of preserves to piles of pumpkins, fill these rich, woolsy, frosty, bountiful poems.

Leslie Evans’ striking illustrations are hand-colored linoleum cut blocks. Her prints rivet our attention with their strong lines, colors, and compositions. This is a clever, thoughtful, artistic book that could easily inspire some of your own autumn acrostics. The other seasons are also available from this team.

wild child cover image couchWild Child, by Lynn Plourde, illustrated by Greg Couch

It’s bedtime for Autumn. Mother Earth is firm about that.

But of course, that wild child, Autumn, begins to cajole and bargain. One more song, a little snack, some pajamas, and a kiss are all needed before Autumn can settle to sleep. Mother Earth agrees to these pleas…

…yet what a song! And what pajamas! Mother Earth sings to Autumn a song of leaves that wild child illustration greg couchcrackle and acorns that skitter. She clothes Autumn in nightgown of flaming red with burnt-orange slippers. And her kiss is so frosty, and blustery, and crystalline, that even wild Autumn can’t resist snuggling down beneath a blanket of snow and falling fast asleep.

Lynn Plourde’s delightful, imaginative narrative is paired with fantastical illustrations by Greg Couch in acrylics and colored pencil. Couch has tackled this text with great creativity, giving us a mythic, personified Autumn and Mother Earth. Mother Earth is woven into the landscapes brilliantly, while Autumn captures the playful, fleeting, goldenness we all try to soak up in these short weeks.

This book has been around for quite awhile, but it’s new to me, and I really like it. If you read it, you’ll also see who comes out to play as soon as Autumn is slumbering! Preschool and up.

in november cover image kastnerIn November, by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Jill Kastner

November is a month largely overlooked it seems to me, increasingly swamped by December’s pre-holiday bustle.

This gentle, dear book  slows everything down, taking a steady, appreciative look at the goings-on of November.

It’s a quiet month for the earth, a time of rest and stillness. Small creatures must prepare, each in his own way, for the long, dark, cold season ahead of them. Such an intriguing variety of ways these animals have of coping with wintertime.

It’s a delicious month, as the savory, spicy foods that have been recently harvested are cooked up into hot cider and roasted squash and apple pie.

It’s a comforting month, as family and friends gather to share a meal and be thankful together.

It’s a cold month, ushering in clear night skies glittering with stars.in november illustration jill kastner 001

Cynthia Rylant’s evocative words, and her exceptional ability to use ever-so-few words, will make you fall in love with quiet November.  Meanwhile, Jill Kastner’s oil paintings are the perfect match. Gorgeous! Her dappled, complex colors capture the blaze of autumn leaves, the purple shadows on snow, the gray chill of a cloudy November day, the warmth of fireside and family. Zooming in on the subject brings us right into the scenes as we peek at bees nestled under the ground, cats snuggled in a furry pile, or one little mouse scampering across the snow.

Another beautiful choice, suitable for preschoolers and up.

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