Pumpkin Moonshine by beloved author/illustrator, Tasha Tudor reminds me of stories by Beatrix Potter and Thornton Burgess. A board book with a fair amount of text, Pumpkin Moonshine introduces us to Sylvie Ann who is visiting her grandmother in Connecticut. Since it is Halloween, Sylvie Ann wants to find the finest pumpkin to make a jack-O'-lantern (or, as Tudor calls it, a pumpkin moonshine). Climbing up a great big hill with Wiggy the dog, Sylvie Ann finds the perfect one. Until, uh-oh, the pumpkin starts rolling down the hill, going bumpty, bump---scaring the goats, the hens, the geese, and finally bumping right into Mr. Hemmelskamp (whom Sylvie Ann thoughtfully helps up right away).
After that, Sylvie and her Grandpawp were still able to use the not-too-battered pumpkin and carve out great big eyes, a nose, and a grinning smile before lighting a candle inside. They were very proud of themselves and their fierce-looking pumpkin.
The following spring Sylvie Ann planted the seeds from the pumpkin---and again, waited, as all little girls and boys do, for the perfect fall day to carve a new pumpkin moonshine.
Bear Feels Sick--I have to say--is a very cute story. With autumn weather bringing the inevitable promise of sniffly noses, coughs, sneezes, and tiredness, Bear Feels Sick is about lending a helping hand and being a good friend. While the message is simple the rhythm in the text, along with word choice is what makes me most attached to the book. "He tosses and he turns, all huddled in a heap. Bear feels tired, but he just can't sleep. He sniffs and he sneezes. He whiffs and he wheezes. And the bear [still] feels sick."
After much comforting, soothing, lulling, and feeding from a badger, a gopher, a mole, a hare, an owl, a raven, and a wren, Bear feels better. But you know, as soon as you lend a helping hand to friends who are sick, the expected will happen, and you too will be sick. But Bear knows what to do, and tucking his friends into bed one by one, Bear says, "You'll soon feel like new. You took care of me...now I'll take care of you."
Apples and Pumpkins by Anne Rockwell is a book filled with the essence of fall. Orange leaves come in and out of the illustrations, rolling hills with fall foliage linger in the background with a big red barn to one side, plump apples wait to be picked, and round, orange pumpkins spread across a field---all ready to be taken home. After a little girl and her parents enjoy a day at the farm -- picking apples, gathering pumpkins, and seeing a number of farm animals -- they go home to carve a jack-o'-lantern and put the pumpkin on their doorstep for Halloween. A story that captures what a typical apple/pumpkin picking trip would look like, Apples and Pumpkins is a fun introduction to autumn family traditions.
Leaves by David Ezra Stein is a creative little story about a young bear who's never seen the autumn before. Puzzled by all the leaves beginning to fall, Bear wonders if they are ok! Thinking that he needs to help the leaves get back to their tree, Bear haphazardly tries to reattach them to the tree. But it does no good. Getting tired, Bear heads off to take a nap. The days grow colder, winter comes and then one spring morning, Bear wakes up from his long, slumberous nap to find...little leaf buds! Bear is so happy that he welcomes the leaves, "And he thought, the leaves welcomed him."
I'm sure many readers are familiar with the adventures of Penguin by Salina Yoon. Her stories always seem to be popping up in bookstores. In Penguin and Pumpkin, Penguin and his friends set off on an adventure to see what fall looks like away from all the snow and ice that surrounds their habitat. But Pumpkin (Penguin's little brother) isn't allowed to go. As Penguin and his friends head off to land in search of the farm, Pumpkin plops himself on a bolder of ice (a little down about not being able to go on the adventure) and imagines what it would be like to celebrate fall on the moon, on Saturn, or even "the Red Planet." But it isn't long before Penguin and his friends return with a big surprise for Pumpkin: fall! With multi-colored leaves falling from the sky like snowflakes and a plump little pumpkin (just for Pumpkin), he was very happy---because he too, got to see fall.
I Love Fall is a touch-and-feel board book. From a wooly scarf, to a leather pumpkin, to a crinkly pie tin, to crunchy leaves, to a woven basket, I Love Fall is meant to provide a tactile experience when talking about autumn and all the good things it has to offer. "In the fall the air is chilly, but my scarf feels warm and wooly...Grandma bakes pumpkins and apple treats. She gives me yummy pies that are warm and sweet." Maybe after reading this book, you and your little one will enjoy your own fall day out in the leaves, eating fall treats, or gathering leaves, pinecones, and tiny pumpkins into a basket (an activity which I'm sure will occupy your little one for more than a few minutes).
Autumn by Gerda Muller is a book for kids as much as it is a book for adults. With no words throughout the book, Autumn shows us (in a variety of cluster-illustrations) all the wonderful activities children can do in the fall. From playing in puddles and sailing wooden sailboats, to making acorn or chestnut figurines---playing in the leaves, building a kite or windmill, making jam, or pressing leaves into paper to make a beautiful design, Autumn is bound to pique the interest of you and your children -- giving you a number of ideas for your own fall activities.
Another touch-and-feel board book, Fall is a first-concept book meant for children in the 0-12 month range. A leaf, a turkey, two pears, a pumpkin, a squirrel, cranberries, and a mention to Thanksgiving, make up this short little introductory book of fall-themed vocabulary words.
Where Is Owl's Scarf? has already become a big hit in our house. A lift-the-flap book, Where Is Owl's Scarf? is about an owl who's about to settle down for a snooze when he realizes---something is missing! Heading out to search for his scarf, owl wonders, is it in the tree, is it behind the hay bales, is it behind the pumpkins, is it resting among the corn stalks, is it in the garbage can, is it in the stream? No, it's behind a pile of leaves with Turkey. Now owl can resume his much-anticipated, snooze. A fun little book for kids who love to lift flaps, our son asks for this book multiple times a day.
Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri is an adorable little story. As all kinds of friends ask Squirrel if he'll nibble a pumpkin with them, rest on a branch, hop rocks, sit in the sun, or run in the field, the little Squirrel replies -- as he darts about collecting food for the winter -- that he is too busy. By the time an owl asks Squirrel if he'd like to watch the moon, Squirrel is fast asleep---surrounded by an array of yummy food for the winter.
The illustrations of Biscuit the dog have always been appealing to me. Resembling a real-life version of a super soft cuddly plush animal, Biscuit the dog is a character children will want to scoop up and hug. In Biscuit Visits the Pumpkin Patch, Biscuit, like many dogs, is playful and ready for adventure. After meeting a new dog along with a bunny rabbit, Biscuit and his new found friends pile into a red wagon with their pumpkins and head home after a fun day. You never know what new friends you'll make at the pumpkin patch!
One of many Spot books by Eric Hill, Spot Goes to School highlights the initial shyness that many children feel when presented with a new surrounding or experience, followed by enthusiasm and comfort upon becoming absorbed in school activities and new friends. Playing with blocks, presenting his bone for show-and-tell, confidently playing on the playground, and eagerly setting his mind to painting, Spot has a fun-filled first day of school. With more fun to look forward to tomorrow.
Lastly, and one of my favorites, Guess How Much I Love You in the Autumn is the story about Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare playing on a fall day.
After playing in the leaves, Big Nutbrown Hare goes to rest under a tree while Little Nutbrown Hare gets distracted by a cardboard box blowing in the wind. Playing a trick on Big Nutbrown Hare, Little Nutbrown Hare sneaks up on him pretending to be a monster. "Goodness me! Big Nutbrown Hare blinked his eyes and wondered if he was dreaming, for he had never heard of a box monster before." But out came Little Nutbrown Hare laughing delightedly at his clever prank. Seizing the opportunity to return the fun, Big Nutbrown Hare chased after Little Nutbrown Hare saying, "I'm a big nutbrown monster -- and I'm coming to get you!" And lovingly, Big Nutbrown Hare scooped Little Nutbrown Hare into his arms for a great big hug. The perfect ending to a wonderful fall day.