Bunting, Eve. One Green Apple. Il. by Ted Lewin. Clarion, 2007. Ages 6-8. Farrah is a bright, sensitive young Muslim girl trying to adjust to life in a new country, with children who dress, act and speak differently than those from her homeland. On her second day at school, she bumps along on a hayride as part of the class field trip to an apple orchard. Lewin’s lively, realistic paintings trace the emotions of Farrah and the others as they pick apples, observe the process of making cider, and then get to taste the sweet product. Tellingly, Farrah alone selects a green apple. As Bunting points out, the mixture of different-colored apples makes for a tasty treat. One Green Apple, which won the inaugural Arab American Book Award for children’s literature, provides a wonderful opportunity for adults and children to discuss the value of diversity and the importance of welcoming newcomers.
Other autumnal read-alouds include …
Bosca, Francesca. The Apple King. North/South, 2001. Ages 7-9. A selfish king hoards all the apples from his tree. It takes a worm to teach him the joys of sharing.
Ehlert, Lois. Leaf Man. Houghton Mifflin, 2006. Ages 4-6. Follow this breezy tale of a man made of leaves, who goes wherever the wind takes him. Ehlert went about collecting leaves, seeds and nuts to make her gorgeous collages for this large, engaging picture book. Children will be amazed as they discern the images of many creatures Ehlert made with these natural objects. Endpapers provide a field guide to leaf varieties, which readers will be inspired to hunt on their own rambles. Librarians and teachers can get lesson ideas at Harcourt.
Gourley, Robin. Bring Me Some Apples, and I’ll Make You a Pie: A Story About Edna Lewis. Houghton, 2008. Ages 6-9. Gourley’s colloquial, Southern-flavored rhymes and text, complemented by her lush watercolors make this a unique and likable picture book. Readers follow the growing season, from early spring to the autumn frost, as Edna and her family plant and pick fruits, berries, nuts and vegetables for their meals, and preserve the surplus for winter. Although a bit wordy, the rhymes are fun, and the subject one we can relish. Edna Lewis was descended from slaves and went on to become an award-winning African American chef, ahead of her times in promoting the use of fresh, local produce. Rounding out the book are a final biographical section and five child-friendly recipes.
MacDonald, Amy. Little Beaver and the Echo. Il. by Sarah Fox-Davies. Penguin, 1998. Ages 4-6. Lonely Little Beaver is surprised when his call is echoed across the pond. Without being aware of it, he finds new friends — a duck, an otter, and a turtle — as he searches for the source of the echo. Gentle, realistic watercolors enhance this sweet, simple story of friendship.
Rawlinson, Julia. Fletcher and the Falling Leaves. Il. by Tiphanie Beeke. Harper, 2006. Ages 4-6. Fletcher is a young fox who worries as his favorite tree turns brown. In vain, he catches the falling leaves and tries to reattach them. When the last leaf falls off, Fletcher sadly picks it up and takes it home. The next morning, though, he is amazed that his tree has a new, sparkly winter look. Let children touch that glittery page and ponder the magic of the changing seasons.
Seabrook, Elizabeth. Cabbages and Kings. Viking, 1997. Ages 7-9. An engaging story of two unlikely friends — a cabbage and an asparagus. At first the tall, slender asparagus makes rude comments about the rotund cabbage. But the two come to appreciate their differences as the growing season progresses. When only one gets to go to the county fair, the other wishes him good luck. The paintings by Jamie Wyeth help make this picture book a feast for the eyes and the spirit.
Spier, Peter. Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night. Bantam, 1993. All ages. Never has the folk song been illustrated so perfectly as in this edition by Spier. The glorious fall countryside sings, and so will you.