cover image Leaf


Stephen Michael King, . . Roaring Brook/Porter, $14.95 (64pp) ISBN 978-1-59643-503-2

Certain boys may be used to hearing that their hair is so long that something is bound to start growing in it, and Australian artist King (A Special Kind of Love ) imagines just such a scenario in this sprightly, wordless story. In a rapid-fire series of spindly pen-and-ink drawings, King records the boy's attempts to preserve the seedling that has sprouted on top of his head and his jubilant frolicking with his similarly eager dog. In one scene, the boy falls asleep and has a series of seedling-threatening nightmares involving a giant caterpillar and rogue hedge-clippers. Even when fate and scissors catch up with the boy, King supplies a quietly satisfying outcome. Ample action and sound effects (an outdoor faucet goes “glurg glug” and the sopping dog shakes himself off with a “flapper flapper flap”) ensure that read-aloud won't suffer from the lack of dialogue. The small format and serene watercolors add to the story's charm. More crucially, the central theme—nurturing one's gifts in the face of adversity—will not be lost on the audience. Ages 4–up. (Mar.)