Book Review: “Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf” by Lois Ehlert

Today, Kelsey and I went to visit Mrs. Anderson’s Used Book Sale.  We both love to spend time in her library, and always leave dreaming of how nice it would be to spend a whole day just looking through her books. This time, we were on a tighter schedule, as we had other shopping to do.  A number of years ago, my husband’s family stopped giving gifts to one another, but I have established a tradition of giving books at Christmastime to our great-nieces and nephews–which now number 13.  Why do I do this?  I believe that giving a book can change a life.  If a child becomes a “lover of books” it will open up to them the world.  I can give them more than a gift, I give them an experience, something to entertain, yes, but enrich and perhaps educate. Something they can enjoy for a lifetime. Something which will grow more valuable each year, if they take good care of it.  I can effect improvement in their character if I choose wisely the books. Of course, not every book will achieve all of these grand goals, but each book can achieve some of them.
Every year I make a trip to Mrs. Anderson’s library, because of her selection and quality of used books, and because she loves to tell me where the “treasures” are!  Last year she introduced me to Wisconsin author Lois Ehlert. One of the wonderful books written by her which I bought last year was “Snowballs.”  So, I was excited this year to find another treasure written by this author:  “Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf!”  What do I like about her books?
First, they are COLORFUL!  Rich reds, oranges and vibrant Blues!  She made her colorful collages “from a variety of seeds, roots, fabric, ribbon, wire, paper, plastic, cardboard, watercolors, crayons, pencils, pens and oil pastels.  She even scrunched some of the paper leaves with her sandals!”  The result is that her images JUMP off the page–I found myself reaching to touch them to see if they were 3 dimensional!  Her books are a FEAST for the eyes!  There are cutout leaves. Every photo and illustration is close-up.  The PRINT is LARGE and BLACK. But it’s not just the look of the book that grabs my attention.  Lois Ehlert fills each page with facts.  These facts are about a subject that the child knows something about so that it’s a hook that a child can hang his hat on.

In “Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf” the subject is maple trees, and the book is packed full of information, told in the form of a story of how the author as a child bought and planted a maple tree with her father, from which, now many years later, she has picked up and saved a fallen leaf to “show it to you.  I love my tree,”  she writes.  While telling her story she fills the pages with facts.  About how a tree starts from a seed, what it needs to grow, how trees end up in garden centers, are measured, marked and sold.  Labeled pictures depict everything from the ordinary garden glove, to the root ball, and include birds such as the black-capped chicadee and the Downy Woodpecker perched upon a suet bag hung upon a branch.

What I love the most about Ehlert’s books is that they encourage a family to be creative and do something special together! At the end of her book is an easy to accomplish hands-on activity or two!  In this book are instructions on how to make a “Bird Treat” in the shape of a heart (started by cutting from a piece of bread with a heart-shaped cookie cutter), with a charming photo of the end product to encourage you!  Also, she gives step-by-step instructions on how you and your family can buy and plant a tree.

From inside the cover: “From a Wisconsin family that has planted many trees together, Lois Ehlert especially loves sugar maples because of their brilliant red and yellow fall leaves.”

“Red leaf, yellow leaf, beautiful tree, Love, from me.”  Truly a book for all ages, I encourage you to read, and maybe buy this book as a gift for a child you know–“Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf” by Lois Ehlert.

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Thanks for reading Faith’s Firm Foundation!

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