Review of A Very Big Fall

A Very Big Fall
by Emily Kastner; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary    Clarion/HarperCollins    40 pp.    g
8/22    978-0-358-41945-7    $17.99

From within a collective of autumn leaves, readers meet three individuals, each with a distinct human-like personality. There’s Birch, the optimist; Oak, the contented; and Maple, the complainer (and late bloomer). The weather turns cold, but having been “born” in the spring, the trio must rely on a pair of know-it-all squirrels to tell them what’s happening: that each will change colors and then fall to the ground. Birch, Oak, and Maple meet this news with glee, acceptance, and distrust, respectively. Maple spends more time in its tree, hearing from the squirrels about the downside of falling (“bottoms of boots and gutters”), but as it turns out, they’re missing some vital information. A young child collects the leaves and gives them new life as cheerful art; her designs and projects displayed on the book’s final page may inspire readers to create their own leaf art. The cheerful mixed-media illustrations, personifying each character, employ fall colors and make maximum use of white space for readers to consider the subtle but multiple themes, such as: change is inevitable; there is no single way to approach the future; and new experiences may well bring unexpected pleasures.

From the September/October 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Betty Carter
Betty Carter, an independent consultant, is professor emerita of children’s and young adult literature at Texas Woman’s University.

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