Per Lois Ehlert’s style of big and bold, colorful and simple, Leaf Man will not disappoint. The Leaf Man is artistically formed from Fall leaves of all sorts or shades of the season. He has acorn eyes, and a small, round sweet gum tree’s fruit (often called a “gumball”) for his mouth. (You can see him on the cover of the book.) And this book is filled, just filled, with the leaves of a Fall season.
“A Leaf Man’s got to go where the wind blows.” … the refrain that runs throughout this book. The Fall winds grab him to take him on a journey that we know not where and in which direction. A narrator lets us know that “He left no travel plans.” But he tells us of the many directions which Leaf Man could have been blown while Ms. Ehlert designs this book to take us on those possible journeys. Leaf Man may have sailed over prairies, lakes or rivers, along mountain ranges, over fields and orchards filled with produce ready for harvest, or above the animals of the fields.
Each animal, fruit or vegetable is formed from Fall leaves that Ms. Ehlert picked up on her walks through the woods. She then made colored copies of each leaf before they dried out and crumbled so as to capture the beauty and vibrancy of the changing Fall colors. This became her tool for creating the artwork in this delightful book. Across the top of each double page spread is uniquely die-cut paper to outline the scene where Leaf Man may be traveling. The edges are jagged along the mountains, more rounded over prairies and waterways, each page lying atop the next, giving the sense of landscape upon landscape. The page-top edges make the scenes come alive. It looks like the Leaf Man might be right there amidst these scenes of natural beauty. Plus, on the endpapers, Ms. Ehlert has given us a labeled leaf guide of the many types of leaves included in this book.
This is a visual feast, and upon reading and/or hearing Leaf Man, children will surely be encouraged to walk through their own woods (should they be blessed to have one nearby). If there is not one in your own backyard, a field trip to an area where there is a Fall season would be warranted. Even here in South Texas where Fall is barely a season, a two or three hour trip to the Texas Hill Country will give enough Fall colors with leaves galore to satisfy a young one.
Reading Level: 4 – 8 Years
Child magazine’s Best Children’s Book Awards 2005
Boston Globe-Horn Book Award
Honorable Mention from the National Outdoor Book Award (Children’s Category) in 2005
Lois Ehlert has created many picture books,most of which have to do with nature. She loves to be outdoors and finds many of her art supplies out in the natural world. Ms. Ehlert graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in English and Psychology. Then she went to the Layton School of Art. She lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Lois Ehlert has written and illustrated many books, including Color Zoo which won the Caldecott Award in 1990, Color Farm, In My World, Growing Vegetable Soup, Planting a Rainbow. She won a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year for Snowballs. Ehlert became the Booklist Editors’ Choice for Cuckoo/Cucú: A Mexican Folktale/Un cuento folklórico Mexicano. She also was awarded the IRA Teachers’ Choice and NCTE Notable Children’s Trade Book in the Language Arts for Feathers for Lunch. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault, Lois Ehlert, illustrator, received the American Library Association Notable Children’s Book and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award. This fun book is still in print and as popular as always with children.
Two webpages which will give you even more about this wonderful children’s author and illustrator:
- ISBN-13: 9780152053048
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
- Publication date: 9/1/2005
- Pages: 40
- Product dimensions: 11.18 x 12.24 (h) x 0.40 (d)
Original review 6-26-2014.