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In the middle of fall

Celebrate the season with these four autumnal picture books, perfect for sharing with preschoolers as the days get chillier. For more, see last November’s Notes article “Wonderfall!

In Rachael Cole’s City Moon, a mother and child embark on an autumnal evening ritual: they take a walk through the city, looking for the moon. The sharp-eyed child catches glimpses of it peeking out from between buildings, reflected in puddles, and finally in its full, bright glory. Blanca Gómez’s luminous illustrations contrast the child’s wonder at the natural world with snapshots of busy city life. While the palette is dark, the warm glow thrown by street lamps, lights from windows, and the moon itself brings comfort and reassurance — even as the child, back home in bed, drifts off to sleep. (Random/Schwartz & Wade, 3–5 years)

Fox hopes to be a famous detective like the ones in his favorite books, but he needs a case to solve. One day he wakes up to find that the apple tree by his house has been picked clean, and methodically sets about solving the case. With simple shapes and bright colors, the illustrations in Ekaterina Trukhan’s Apples for Little Fox are full of entertaining details — including clues that will empower viewers to solve the mystery before Fox. Ending with a woodland birthday party and an apple pie, this cheery tale introduces the conventions of the mystery genre to the youngest sleuths. (Random, 3–5 years)

A quartet of owls perches atop a tree branch; a complementary quartet of bats underneath it. Although the adults of each species are skeptical of one another, the smallest members of each brood want to make friends. When both families are scattered by a gust of wind, the adults frantically regroup; the flurry results in a newfound and mutual neighborly appreciation. Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick’s illustrations in the wordless Owl Bat Bat Owl convey characterization through subtle shifts in body language and the owls’ large, expressive eyes. (Candlewick, 3–5 years)

In the Middle of Fall (a companion to 2016’s When Spring Comes) is a quietly joyful paean to autumn and to the changeability of the seasons. Kevin Henkes’s text is brief but lyrical, pitched perfectly to preschoolers. Laura Dronzek’s lush acrylic paintings in vivid autumnal colors foreground “frisky” gray squirrels; nodding, browned sunflower heads; plump, orange pumpkins; and shiny red apples that look “like ornaments.” The book ends with the reminder that “it takes just one big gust of wind” to dispatch leaves from their trees, turning the air “yellow / and red / and orange” — a poignant signal of the end of autumn and the beginning of winter. (Greenwillow, 3–5 years)

From the November 2017 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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Martha V. Parravano About Martha V. Parravano

Martha V. Parravano is book review editor of The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog.

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