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Monday, December 06, 2010

Five Autumn and Harvest Books

Autumn, Fall, whatever name we choose to use, is a wonderful time of the year, cherished and celebrated around the world. As we enjoyed the pageantry of leaves - bursting with bright red, deep burgundy, sparkling yellow, shocking orange, and even dark pink, eventually falling from the branches leaving the trees bare for the upcoming winter - we also enjoyed a few books about Autumn.

Again, not an exhaustive list or top-five of any kind on the subject, but, just a handful of recent reads that informed and engaged the kids.

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf
by Lois Ehlert

Ages 4-8

This is the story of a sugar maple tree, as told by the girl who planted it in her yard and watched it grow. Lois Ehlert has many wonderful books to her credit with quite amazing art work. Leaf Man and Color Zoo were a couple of Ana's favorite a few years ago. This book is no exception.

The vibrant reds and yellows on some pages, and the blues and greens on the others, with beautiful collages created from various objects makes this book a visual treat.

The simple text makes it easy for the 2½ year old to follow along, even if not all the words are in his vocabulary yet.

Back of the book provides information about the sugar maple tree - seeds, leaves, buds, bark, tree flowers etc., plus how to select and plant a sapling. Inside the back flap is a simple idea for making a Bird Treat to hang in the tree to invite the local birds.

We Gather Together
Celebrating the Harvest Season
by Wendy Pfeffer
illustrated by Linda Bleck

Ages 4-8

Pfeffer-Bleck author-illustrator team has presented Summer Solstice, Winter Solstice, Autumnal Equinox and Spring Equinox in a child-friendly way with some basic scientific facts and celebrations around the world.

We Gather Together introduces the science behind the Autumnal Equinox, roots of agriculture which leads to harvest season and celebration of Nature's bounty across cultures through the ages.

This non-fiction survey of harvest traditions is not too staid or uptight despite providing factual details, which makes it an easy read for the five year old.

Notes at the back of the book provide recipes, craft ideas, science activities, and further reading.

The Autumn Equinox
Celebrating the Harvest

by Ellen Jackson
illustrated by Jan Davey Ellis

Ages 4-8

Much like the Pfeffer-Bleck book above, in the Jackson-Ellis book, we read about the autumnal equinox and harvest celebrations around the world.

The book starts off like a story: Long ago, the Chinese relied on movement and phases of moon to tell them when planting and harvesting should begin. And we learn about the seasons observed by different people in different parts of the world and how they came to celebrate it with a tradition of their own. From Celts to Germanic people of northern Europe, Native American Iroquois, Nigerian Yoruba.

Being a child-friendly survey of harvest traditions, it brings home a general sense of appreciation for farming and harvesting - our ability to produce and share foods - which makes life a lot easier than it used to be before Man stumbled upon agriculture.

There is usually a mild struggle between stereotyping and abstracting-and-highlighting cultures, and if the adult mind can get past it, the illustrations and text are quite engaging for a five-year-old.

It's Fall!
by Linda Glaser
cut-paper illustrations by Susan Swan

Ages 4-8

While the five-year-old found this book rather boring, the 2½ year old enjoyed it. The bright colors, and pictures, plus the story as told by a little boy probably appealed to him better via the simple sentences.

The exquisite cut-paper illustrations by Ms. Swan reminded me of Steve Jenkins/Robin Page creations, with beautiful dimension and depth and rich colors and action, adding to the experience.

The simple yet descriptive text captures the happenings and delights of fall season. Back of the book lists some Nature Activities to Do in the Fall.

Hello, Harvest Moon
by Ralph Fletcher
illustrated by Kate Kiesler

Ages 4-8

When the harvest is over and the crops have been processed and stored, what do we see rising at the edge of the world, coming up over the ripe corn and wheat fields? Why, the Harvest Moon, of course!

The text flows like poetry as it describes the scenes illuminated by the radiant moon: The harvest moon has its own work to do. It paints the wings of owls and night hawks with a mixture of silver and shadow.

The oil paintings with deep velvety night scenes bathed in soft yet brilliant moon light evoke feelings of wonder and mystery.

The lush language, imagery, and artistry packaged into this book is certainly a treasure for my five-year-old to unwrap and appreciate as she grows older.

[image sources: TTLG, 109things, Swap, Naturally Educational,]

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