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Review of Wonderfall

hall_wonderfallWonderfall
by Michael Hall; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary    Greenwillow    40 pp.
9/16    978-0-06-238298-6    $17.99

After his earlier inventive picture books introducing shapes (Perfect Square, rev. 3/11) and colors (Red: A Crayon’s Story, rev. 1/15), Hall turns now to a season: autumn. Replacing the suffix -ful with his own created suffix -fall, he invents new adjectives such as beautifall, plentifall, and wistfall. These words form the titles of a series of short verses that take readers through the season. Each double-page spread is anchored by a large, acorn-bearing oak tree, which narrates the book in very brief poems: “A gentle / breeze is / jiggling / me. / I hear / my / acorns / drop. / Plink, / plunk, / plop.” As the season progresses, the tree comments on events such as children boarding a school bus on the first day of school, kids trick-or-treating, and Canada geese flying south for the winter. Each page-turn finds the tree also marking the passage of time: its leaves change color and begin to fall. Two gray squirrels can be spotted on almost every spread, along with many other animals, from monarch butterflies to great horned owls; all of these are described further in the back matter (which also provides information about squirrels’ role in propagating oak trees). Although the wordplay here may be over the heads of the youngsters at whom it is aimed, Hall’s exuberant style, with bright colors and crisp, digitally rendered shapes, is engaging, and the closing sequence leading up to the snowfall is one that all children will understand and enjoy.

From the November/December 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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Susan Dove Lempke About Susan Dove Lempke

Susan Dove Lempke is a Horn Book reviewer and director of the Niles Public Library District in Illinois.

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