cover image Fletcher and the Falling Leaves

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves

Julia Rawlinson. Greenwillow Books, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-113401-2

Beeke's (The Stars Will Still Shine) attractive watercolors are a good match for British author Rawlinson's poetic tale of a small fox who tries to save a tree's autumn leaves. When ""the soft, swishing sound of summer fades to a crinkly whisper,"" Fletcher worries about the brown leaves on his favorite tree. Beeke's illustrations show the shifting colors of the tree and Fletcher's poignant anxiety with equal deftness. When Fletcher finally wakes up to find his tree ""hung with a thousand icicles, shining silver in the early light,"" the blue-toned, frosty tree is adorned with literal glitter on the page. Rawlinson liberally sprinkles the graceful text with child-friendly images, but the slight story seems too elaborate for the book's theme. Fletcher is appalled when various animals use the leaves for their winter nests, but his anguish sometimes seems too exaggerated: ""Help! Help! The wind, the squirrel, and the hedgehog are stealing our leaves,"" he cries. The remainder of the book seems designed to fill out the book's pages rather than to provide scenes integral to the story. A ""flock of friendly birds"" responds to Fletcher's plea and pokes the leaves back onto the tree's branches, while Fletcher climbs the tree and valiantly guards the last attached leaf. Oddly, while Fletcher's mother observes his grief, she doesn't provide an explanation of the change of seasons beyond telling him ""it's only autumn."" Nonetheless, the last image of the sparkling, snowy tree will likely surprise and delight young readers. Ages 3-up.