Falling for Ehlert

h1 October 6th, 2006 by jules


I know the official first day of Fall was weeks ago, but October’s here, and — no matter what part of the country you live in — leaves are starting to change color or at least thinking about it. It’s just delicious, isn’t it? Who doesn’t love October? (a rhetorical question, but, hey, if someone wants to contest it, knock yourself out). In fact, I can’t help but always think of my blog-partner-in-crime’s husband when October boldly strolls in, as it’s his favorite month (hello to Brionysus, if he’s reading).

Lois Ehlert’s The Leaf Man was published last year but made a big splash in June of this year by winning a 2006 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award. So, for that reason and because it’s a clever, wonderful book and in honor of Autumn, which is on the verge of being all ablaze and aflame with its resplendence, I’m giving this pleasing picture book a huge shout-out.

Fall is here, the wind is blowing, and Leaf Man will be on his way . . . but which way is he heading? Ehlert asks the reader, bringing us along on a journey with her collage of leaves, taking the form of a variety of animals and objects in nature along the way. Ehlert uses color photocopies of various Fall leaves for her die-cut pages (which curve at the top of each page, hinting at the rolling landscapes Ehlert is envisioning), re-visiting what seems to be one of her favorites picture book subjects, the beauty of Fall. (See also Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf, 1991, in which she uses watercolor collage and real seeds, as well as pieces of fabric, wire, and roots, to consider the life of a sugar maple tree in all its fall brilliance).

redyellow.gifYou can spend a great deal of time poring over just the endpapers of Leaf Man, preferably with your favorite small person, enjoying the leaf varieties that Ehlert profiles. Then, we meet Leaf Man, whose eyes are acorns and whose nose is a sweet gumball; he is composed of mostly maple leaves. He doesn’t stay long, ’cause “a leaf man’s got to go where the wind blows” (Ehlert’s repeated refrain in her lyrical text). And he left no travel plans, Ehlert tells us, so off we go with her to see where he may have flown to. We’re treated in this one to Ehlert’s signature touch — a dazzling landscape that celebrates Mother Nature and honors the rich, imaginative inner life of children. An author’s note allows Ehlert to exude her passion for the subject and to explain how she created this visual feast.

Ah, the glory of Fall! Spend it with Ehlert . . .

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