The Leaf Thief by Alice Hemming, illustrated by Nicola Slater. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky. 9781728235202, 2021
Format: ARC (Hardcover available August, 2021)
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
Genre: Picture Book
What did you like about the book? This is such a silly story of how one little squirrel misunderstands the concept of leaves falling off the trees in the autumn months. The story begins with a little squirrel enjoying a peaceful rest on the upper branch of a tree. This squirrel is looking up at the sky and admiring all the beautiful leaves that surround his branch. He can see all the colors of the leaves, including red, gold, and orange (he is also noticing how full his belly is from a large meal of hazelnuts!). Suddenly, he notices that one of his leaves is missing. This sends the squirrel off into a frantic search of the woods for a single missing leaf. He spies a mouse floating down the stream on a leaf and asks the mouse if he stole his leaf. The mouse replies that he did not steal a leaf and is using this one for a boat. This type of scenario continues for a while until the squirrel finally realizes that his tree is losing leaves because it is the fall season. Squirrel now understands what has happened to his leaves and seems to be perfectly content — until he wakes up the first snowy morning of winter and accuses someone of stealing the grass! This is a cute way of introducing the seasonal changes to a young child.
The illustrations provided by Nicola Slater are adorable. The expressions of the squirrel are priceless and range from content, to nervous, to angry, and back to content. We can also see the reactions in the facial expressions of the other woodland creatures (especially the bird rolling its eyes when the squirrel accuses someone of stealing the grass, a “here we go again” gesture). The colors are bright and little details add a touch of humor, such as a bird with bowling gear, a mouse on a sailboat made from a leaf, and the squirrel trying to do yoga to relax.
Anything you did not like about the book. Nothing
To whom would you recommend this book? This story is perfect for children between the ages of two and five years old. This story is a great way to introduce the change of seasons to a very young child.
Who should buy this book? Public libraries, preschools, daycare centers, anyone who works with children between the ages of three and five years old.
Where would you shelve it? Picture Books
Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Kristin Guay, former youth services librarian.
Date of review: March 19, 2021