cover image Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf

Lois Ehlert. Harcourt Children's Books, $17 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-15-266197-7

Ehlert ( Color Zoo ) uses a variety of materials--including paper, ribbons and paints--to depict the beginning of a sugar maple's life. Some time after seeds fall from a tree in the woods, nursery workers collect the slender sprouts; years later the tree is sold to a customer (the young first-person narrator of the book), taken home and carefully planted. Once again Ehlert provides a visual bounty: her pages are awash in the riotous reds and golds of autumn and the fresh, vibrant greens of new growth. There is bounteous information, too: in addition to the tree itself she includes several varieties of birds and many of the objects associated with gardening. An appendix provides further details on the biology and upkeep of trees. Less successful is the story line linking the tree to the narrator; the child remains an unseen abstraction whose utterances (``I love my tree'') appear stiff and a bit forced. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)