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Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn

goodbye-summer

As I write this, we’re having the first snow of the season in Chicago. My kids could not wait to go outside. They ran back and forth, trying to catch snowflakes on their tongue. They asked when they would be able to have a snowball fight and when we could go sledding. Like most adults in Chicago, I could only think about the salt and sludge and the dreaded task of scraping my car in the morning.

Similarly, in the autumn, when the leaves began to fall, my kids could not walk two feet without picking up a leaf. They marveled at every shape and color. During the summer, they can spot rabbits in the dark and roly-poly bugs in the dirt. But children see things through a different lens. They notice things we adults sometimes are too busy to see. This book captures that wonder in a way that kids can relate to. From the first page, every spread is full of color and light. A girl surveys the scene before her, a summer day lush with every shade of green and yellow. As she walks through the forest and the town, she encounters animals playing or preparing for the coming colder weather. She says “Hello” to everyone and everything she meets, and they not only respond but give something back. When she says “Hello” to the wind, it tells her, “It’s time to bring out your thick sweaters and scarves.” With every page-turn, the colors shift and darken ever so slightly, but are no less vibrant. The leaves turn red, brown, gold, yellow, and even purple! There are other subtle changes that are worth slowing down for.

In an interview with Nobrow Press, Kenard Pak explained his technique. He said, “My ideas are in a constant state of flux that blossom and crystallize into manageable states. Something nice eventually emerges through the hard work.” I think that “nice” is an understatement. The layers of watercolors, the details of leaves in flight, the texture of the grass—all show a mastery of not only capturing what he sees but seeing something more. He sees the world the way a child does, and I mean that in the best way.

In my opinion, an excellent picture book (dare I say, an award-worthy picture book) not only invites you to read it again and again, but it also presents opportunities to explore, to look outside the pages, to go for a walk and talk to those around you. Then it leads you back home for a cup of hot chocolate and maybe another read through.

 

About Yoomi An Larmee

Avid reader Yoomi An Larmee provides tech support to teachers in Evanston School District 65 in Illinois.

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Comments

  1. Allison Grover Khoury says:

    This is a beautiful book and I came across it by chance at my local children’s bookstore. I wanted it not only for the rich color and beautiful spreads on each page, but I’m also always looking for good books about seasons for my season-deprived students here in Los Angeles. The children enjoyed it, although the first graders may have found it a bit repetitive. Still, I am glad to see it included in these collection of reviews for this year’s Caldecott.

  2. Sam Juliano says:

    Ah I missed this review somehow. Well, this sublime picture book has been in my collection since the week it released, and I do absolutely consider it one of the year’s most beautiful works. The first graders in my school did appreciated the art as well, though I will admit I coaxed them just a little bit. 🙂 Seriously this is gorgeous and a real sleeper, one that could well put a surprise on that date two days after who know who is sworn in as President. Impressionist watercolor has rarely been applied with such atmospheric nuance. I do see reason here to make comparison with Jonathan Bean’s work, at least to some modest degree, particularly BAD BYE GOOD BYE.

    Wonderful anecdotal piece here,, with that terrific Pak interview excerpt.

    Alison, should you re-visit this thread I just want to say Happy New Year (actually extended to all included the esteemed Ms.An Larmee) and thanks for the kinds words on previous review threads.

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