Leaf – Sandra Dieckmann – Flying Eye Books – Published 3 October 2017
When a polar bear arrives unexpectedly in the woods, the animals fear and avoid him, suspecting him to be dangerous—and his habit of collecting leaves only adds to their distrust. Then one day, they watch as he attempts to fly over the water with wings made of colorful leaves, just trying to go home.
Maybe he needs some help?
Is it just me or are pictures books becoming more and more beautiful these days. I’ve noticed it with a lot of the books we have coming into the library, and now this book, Leaf, is absolutely, strikingly gorgeous. And not just the illustrations but the story and message, too.
Set in the wild wood, the animals who call this rugged land their home are surprised and a little wary when a new animal arrives. He is big, white, and has lots of teeth. But stranger still is his habit of collecting leaves. So they name him Leaf. But as the animals watch Leaf they finally become brave enough to ask him his story.
You know a book has you hooked when your heart is in your throat and you are really, really hoping it doesn’t have a sad ending. At its heart Leaf has a number of simple but key messages to draw out – reaching out to outsiders, loneliness, and protecting the environment. Leaf collects leaves to make wings so that he can fly home to his family from whom he was separated because of the melting ice. And that’s all it says. There is no lecturing or overt nagging, just a simple message conveyed through the eyes of a lonely polar bear. It provokes key discussion and questions about why the ice has melted, how Leaf might have become separated from his family, what the animals did to help, and what else could be done to help.
But while the story is heartwarming and beautiful, it is the imagery in this book that captures the reader’s attention. The colour palette is stunning. I want to surround myself with these colours. The blues, teals, greys and blacks of the story are striking, especially with the use of patterns and layered detail. Set against this vibrant backdrop are pops of colour, from the textured orange of the fox’s fur to the greens, yellows, and coral of the leaves. Movement is also beautifully conveyed through the pictures, especially as Leaf runs through the forest, a vibrant mantle of leaves around his neck flowing out behind him.
Animal lovers will adore this book, but I can’t see anyone not liking it. Leaf is a story of loneliness and fear, bravery and wanting to go home. Its poignant message is an important one, and one that is very easy to share when it is packaged as beautifully as in this wonderful book.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Children’s fiction, Picture Book
Themes: Polar bears, environment destruction,
Reading age guide: Ages 3 and up.
Published: 10 October 2017 by Flying Eye Books.
Format: Hardcover. 32 pages.