The little yellow leaf

Carin Berger

Book - 2008

A yellow leaf is not ready to fall from the tree when autumn comes, but finally, after finding another leaf still on the tree, the two let go together.

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Picture books
[New York, N.Y.] : Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins c2008.
Main Author
Carin Berger (-)
1st ed
Physical Description
unpaged : col. ill. ; 30 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by New York Times Review

BEAUTIFULLY capturing autumn's moods, "The Little Yellow Leaf" one of the 10 winners of this year's New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books Awards - incites a craving for apple cider and hayrides, but it also tells a curious story likely to prompt questions from young readers. Why do leaves fall? What happens then? A little yellow leaf refuses to let go of its branch and hangs on through fall and into early winter. Around it leaves swirl, trailing dotted lines and arrows, and a great golden sun made of a hundred bits of paper seems to shimmer and pulse. The leaf continues to cling while the paper sky changes from sunlight to moonlight, from the warmth of yellow and orange to the chill of midnight blue. With surprising shifts of perspective, the art allows the reader to see the leaves from below, then to fly up and look down on the tree, and finally to survey the checkerboard landscape from the dizzying height of birds. Carin Berger, the author and illustrator, allows the raw materials of her collages to show through, including the lines of graph paper and the type of newspapers and old books. Notebook paper brings schoolwork to mind, but with scissors Berger transforms the stuff of homework into art. Adults will note with satisfaction the snipping-up of receipts and water-meter readings. The creases and stains and faded edges suggest a nice parallel between aging paper and aging leaves. Berger's technique is a great relief compared with the glossy slickness of computer illustration: Readers will understand that it's O.K. to let imperfections show. The visibly hand-crafted look should inspire kids to race to the art room and say, "I can do this." The tricky part is that the star of this story is not, say, a squirrel who refuses to come down and join the other squirrels in preparing for winter. The main character is instead an autumn leaf, beautiful in color and dead in fact. Animated with a will to persist despite the laws of nature and the chemical process of abscission, the little yellow leaf resists the changing of the season. Finally a like-minded red leaf appears, and the two "let go" together. The story ends with the leaves cresting on a breeze rather than tumbling toward a backyard - setting an encouraging example, perhaps, for a child who clings to Mom's leg at the schoolroom door, unwilling to let go until the little red leaf of a friend happens along. Yet a child is bound to ask, "What happens to the leaves now?" Well, they will eventually fall to the ground. Perhaps like Shel Silverstein's Giving Tree, the leaves will serve the needs of a child. Or maybe a child will rescue them and use them in a collage for her own storybook. Life is brief and bittersweet. Nature can only be deferred, not denied. Like any good children's allegory, this book invites a variety of interpretations. Whatever ending you envision, do not go gently into that good fall. Rage, rage, against the dying of the leaf. David Barringer is the winner of the 2008 Winterhouse Award for Design Writing and Criticism.

Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [October 27, 2009]
Review by Booklist Review

Berger's latest picture book focuses on a single leaf that is just not ready to leave the branch of its great oak tree. While other leaves swirl down, this leaf keeps holding on as apples grew musky, pumpkins heavy, and flocks of geese took wing. Complementing her own concise, appealing text, Berger's inventive collage-based illustrations range from a closeup of the leaf that reveals words and letters on it to an image of the sun that seems to have been formed from a mosaic of bricks. They give a sense of both close-up textures and the wider reach of the world. Eventually the season turns to blue-gray winter, and still the leaf holds on tight. It is not until the leaf spies a scarlet flash high up on an icy branch that it can contemplate the next step. Over the next three spreads quirky, gorgeous landscapes that incorporate lined paper, graph paper, newspaper articles, and water bills the two leaves soar through the skies, off and away and away and away, together.--Nolan, Abby Copyright 2008 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 2-The human capacity for volition and fear of the unknown is central to this tale. A lone yellow leaf clings to a giant oak tree and watches the unfolding drama of winter's approach, refusing to let go of his branch. A "riot of fiery leaves" swirls to the ground, apples grow "musky" and pumpkins ripen, geese fly south, and eventually snow flurries fill the air, but still the leaf holds fast. Finally, he spies a small scarlet leaf attached high above that invites him to let go. Together, they soar away and join in a dance with the wind. In Berger's eye-catching collage illustrations, pieced background papers in shades of yellow, green, blue, and beige show off stylized forms of naked tree branches, leaves, and sun created by clipping and pasting (sometimes tiny) segments of various papers-faded, lined ledger, and graph paper; colored and printed magazine pages-and adding touches of paint. It seems the message to be inferred from this slight anthropomorphic tale is that feelings of indecision can be overcome by heeding the encouragement of another. Some parents may be inclined to disagree.-Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, Ohio (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Beautifully designed and executed, this modest fable anthropomorphizes a leaf who hangs onto his oak branch far into the winter. When he discovers another late-lingering leaf on his tree, both agree to let go at once and dance away in the wind together. The brief text has a modestly elegant beauty and patterning that makes it a delight to read aloud (with one unfortunate adverbial faux pas: "the / sun / sank / slow"). The handsomely designed collage compositions are showstoppers in a palette of earth and sky, sometimes on a subtle background of paint over graph or notebook paper. They take full advantage of the visual bounty of autumn, which will be a delight in many preschool storytimes. However, the implicit moral of taking courage from a friend may be over some children's heads. They might wonder, as well, what exactly happens to the brave little leaves after they drift out of sight into the cold winter sky. (Picture book. 3-7) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.