- Kelsey Paff
6 Board Books for Fall
1. Autumn in the Forest
Another sturdy lift-the-flap book in the seasonal board books series by Cottage Door Press, Autumn in the Forest is presented in story-form (I know a number of friends have mentioned that they prefer books with stories as opposed to look-and-find type books). And for those of you familiar with the series, you'll notice that the book illustrates some of the same scenes from the other books in the series. I think this is particularly clever because it allows a child to envision what their own home would look like throughout the year and what to look for during those seasonal transitions.
I also appreciate how the book encourages a sense of wonder in children by highlighting that the change of seasons is often magical to children. With leaves and nuts falling, apples and pears ripening, chipmunks and squirrels gathering for the winter, and pumpkins growing, the forest is abuzz with excitement for the season. As the book concludes, "What a wonderful day to be a chipmunk in the forest. Frost has kissed the pumpkins, apples, and pears. And one little chipmunk is snug in its burrow."
2. How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow? by Wendell Minor
New to board book format, How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow? begins at a farm where the perfect pumpkin is being hauled away in a wagon. Pumpkins grow in many different sizes but giant pumpkins and giant pumpkin festivals are particularly exciting.
While some giant pumpkins become boats or win first prize at a fair, author Wendell Minor invites children to image what it would be like to have a pumpkin that was so big that it could shine as brightly as a lighthouse, or glow like a New York City skyscraper, or become so immense that it couldn't even hide behind the Capitol dome. With illustrations that reference different landmarks throughout the US, How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow? invites children to explore and imagine the possibilities of what a giant (and I mean, giant!) pumpkin could do.
My only hesitation towards the book is that for a board book there are a couple of pages that I personally think might be a tad scary or confusing to young children. The monster pumpkin about to gobble up riders on the roller coaster or the scary-looking pumpkin rising up behind the Grand Canyon were my least favorite pages. I think I would have edited those two pages out for an abridged board book version.
3. Pippa and Peel in the Autumn Wind by Daniela Drescher
I know, I know, I'm always including books by Daniela Drescher, but her illustrations never cease to impress me. Written in prose, Pippa and Pelle are always enjoying the seasons. This time they're enjoying nature by playing in the blustery autumn gale as golden leaves swirl and by flying kites. When the wind stops, Pippa and Pelle find berries and mushrooms to pick and soon head home to make a tasty dinner.
A lovely book, along with the other Pippa and Pelle books in Drescher's seasonal series, and one that I hope others will enjoy.
4. Through the Seasons by Sarah Laidlaw
While Through the Seasons isn't specifically about fall, I always think it's nice for children to flip through a book that shows the seasons in order.
Illustrated without words, Through the Seasons shows a family hiking through the woods, gardening, playing at the beach, jumping with autumn leaves, walking with lanterns with hats and mittens, and lastly decorating a Christmas tree. As you can see from the illustration below though, I'm wondering if I received a defective copy. I've never seen a book with large sections of blank space like that unless there's text. Nevertheless, I am a big fan of Floris Books and their commitment to quality children's literature.
5. A Pumpkin for Peter with text by Fiona Munro and Illustrations by Eleanor Taylor
I have to say, while I was extremely excited about this book and while the illustrations are lovely, I was a bit disappointed with the story. Initially exciting and suspenseful, the rabbit family sets out late one afternoon to pick out a Halloween pumpkin. On their journey through the woods Peter hears a clattering and rattling up above...but it's only the wind. He then sees a shadow from a big owl and then suddenly there's another rustling in the woods. it's now become quite dark and everyone is a bit nervous. To everyone's surprise though the loud noise is only Mr. Bunny and his son Benjamin, who were on their way to the Peter's home to deliver a pumpkin pie.
At this point in the book, everyone decides to go to Peter's home for a pumpkin party instead of continuing on in search of a pumpkin. I think I would have been completely fine with this ending if it hadn't been for the fact that the book is called A Pumpkin for Peter and shows an illustration of Peter in a pumpkin patch. That is the only picture of Peter with a pumpkin and I just felt that there should have been something at the end of the story to imply that Peter would find a pumpkin the next day, or that he decided he didn't need a pumpkin this year...something besides gearing up for a journey to get a pumpkin and then simply deciding not the continue. I think Peter's Pumpkin Party would have been more appropriate.
6. Apple Pie ABC by Alison Murray
Using mostly reds, blues, and oranges, Scottish author and illustrator, Alison Murray has created an artistically compelling board book. With short, almost musical phrases like "Bake it. Cool it. Dish it. Eager for it." etc. Murray takes the reader into the home of a girl and her dog as the two of them wait for an apple pie to be done. Along the way however, things don't turn out as planned as the dog, determinedly, makes the pie crash to the floor in order to quickly eat it up.
For a child, I think this ending could be a little sad, and even though the girl in the story seems to be smiling at her dog lovingly on the last page, I would have preferred an ending where Murray shows the girl and the dog baking a new pie and perhaps sharing a piece together, or some other ending that doesn't potentially make a child want to cry. We've all seen children who've dropped their ice cream or gotten upset when something they worked so hard on gets wrecked and I just felt like the book ended right at the point where a child would be heartbroken at the thought of losing something that took so much time and effort. Of course any ending can end with a child continuing the story and thinking up possibilities for what happens next, and maybe that's the best part of reading, and perhaps Murray wanted to show that even if someone does something wrong you should still love them, but that might be a bit too philosophical for most board book listeners.