Putnam Publishing Group, Hardcover, 9780399246364, 32pp.
Publication Date: August 16, 2007
Graceful illustrations and a childlike main character offer the perfect way to talk to children about the wonder of the changing seasons.
To Bear, in his first year, everything is new. He lives on a tiny island with a few trees, flowers, berries, and butterflies, and he dances with joyuntil he sees a leaf fall to the ground. He wonders, "Are you okay?" More leaves fall. "He tried to catch them and put them back on . . . but it was not the same." As he watches the leaves fall and blanket the ground, he grows sleepy, finds a cavelike hole, fills it with leaves, and burrows into it to sleep away the winter. In spring, he joyfully welcomes the tiny leaves unfolding on the trees. The narrative works seamlessly with the freewheeling, expressive artwork. Created with bamboo pen, the energetic, sensitive drawings are tinted with subtle shades of color. Just as Stein uses white space effectively in the art, he uses "white space" well in the spare, precise text, leaving some details for children to notice in the pictures alone, such as how the leaves have been stuck back on the trees by spearing them onto the living twigs. Teachers will find this picture book a natural for curriculum units on leaves or hibernation, and children will enjoy seeing fall anew through the eyes of a big-hearted character more innocent than themselves. Wonderfully simple and simply wonderful for sharing with children. —Booklist, starred review