Falling for Fall: Autumn Picture Book Round-Up

October 2nd, 2010 by Eliza Eliza

Happy October! I’m so happy that autumn is finally here. It’s hard not to fall in love with autumn in the Pioneer Valley. I mean, seriously. Look at this view:

It’s the time of year for pumpkin patches, corn field mazes, apple picking and trees ablaze in color. But even if you’re not in the Northeast (or in the Northern Hemisphere) you can still share our love for fall by curling up with one of our favorite picture books. These books are great all year round, but they do just happen to be extra cozy and fun right around now…

The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger is a sweet story of friendship, risk taking, and embracing change and this book evokes all the sensations of the fall season. The color palette of the illustrations move from the greens of summer, to the yellows, oranges and reds of fall, into the cool blues of winter all within 32 pages. The illustrations are intricate collage of recycled paper, uniting old-school graph and lined paper, envelopes, and book pages in an unique and inspiring way. Here’s some of my favorite spreads:

To see more about the creation of this book and learn about the author/illustrator Carin Berger, check out this wonderful interview.

Another all-time favorite picture book is A Story for Bear by Dennis Haseley, illustrated by Jim LaMarche. This book was first introduced to me as an adult by my mentor at Barefoot Books. Not only does the main character share my name, but I instantly felt we shared the same love of books, nature and wildlife, and as my family might complain, a love for reading books aloud. A Story for Bear shows an unusual friendship between a woman and a bear, who are drawn together by the love a good story. A sweet, quiet book, this makes a great laptime read, perfect for cozy cuddles on a crisp fall night. Let me share with you my absolute favorite page of the book:

For gardeners and farmers, autumn is the time when all of the summer’s sweaty, dirty hard work pays off and you can eat good homegrown food well into the cold winter. Look at all the beautiful squashes from my local farm!

There are so many great picture books that explore gardening and farming through the seasons, showing the gratifying rewards of a bountiful harvest. Kathy Henderson’s And the Good Brown Earth and Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall, filled with Barbara Cooney’s rustic illustrations of New England, are two of my favorites.

Another newer title is Strega Nona’s Harvest by Tomie dePaola. Using the comical antics of familiar characters, dePaola explores not only the process of gardening, but also how a good harvest can really bring together a community. And as always, dePaola uses such beautiful and vivid colors that evoke the harvest season. This is my favorite illustration from the book:

Click here to read Barbara Elleman’s Top of the Shelf review of Strega Nona’s Harvest.

Speaking of food bringing community together, Applesauce Season by Eden Ross Lipson highlights the spirit of the fall apple season without ever stepping into an orchard. In the urban setting of New York City, the book still evokes the smells and tastes that an apple harvest can bring as a family cooks and eats together. I especially love how illustrator Mordecai Gerstein captures the details and differences of various apple types. These endpapers are not only fabulous, but actually quite educational as an apple identification guide!

Another picture book that provides a great fall identification guide is Carole Gerber’s Leaf Jumpers, which offers easy definitions for recognizing fall leaves, while Leslie Evan’s colorful lino cut illustrations are simple and gorgeous. And, of course, who doesn’t love jumping in a pile of raked leaves?

I’m sure I could go on and on about favorite fall picture books, but I’d rather hear about the books you’d recommend. Share your favorite picture books to read in the fall in the comments.

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