Written and Illustrated by Lois Ehlert
Harcourt, Inc., 2005
Leaf Man used to live near me, in a pile of leaves.
The plot in a nutshell: A Leaf Man goes where the wind blows.
The wind blows Leaf Man away to the east, in the direction of the marsh. He blows over the vegetable fields and away out of sight. He may be blowing over the orchards or the meadows or by the cows. He may have fallen onto a lake where he may be floating on the water or rushing past in a river. He may be blowing to the north, over tall trees and mountains. When he looks down at the world beneath him, he may be lonesome. But only the wind knows where he going or where he will end up. So pay attention to the sights and sounds around you. You may find a Leaf Man who wants to go home with you.
Author/illustrator Lois Ehlert mentions in a note at the end of this book that she has been collecting and appreciating leaves her entire life and I’m going to warn you that this book is likely to make you want to pick up the habit, too. It’s an absolutely gorgeous love letter to autumn and all its colors. Leaf Man is represented by some leaves in the general shape of a head and body, with acorns for eyes and a sweet gum fruit for a mouth. In fact, all of the artwork is made with actual leaves that Ms. Ehlert color copied and arranged to create animals, plants and scenery. The story pages are die cut with special edges across the top, too, adding layers and dimensions into the artwork that makes everything even more eye-popping.
Throughout the story, there is a repeated mantra that a “Leaf Man’s got to go where the wind blows” and it reminds us of the transience of leaves (and, if you’re a particularly deep thinker, the fleeting nature of the world around us). The end papers give us a catalog of these leaves, telling us what types of trees they come from. Even more fun, she includes some mystery leaves and tells us where she found them, which made me feel very connected to the author. I would be shocked if schools weren’t using this book as a springboard to classroom activities involving leaf collections. I loved this book. Now how many days until the autumn gets here?
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that there’s a lot of value in going wherever the wind takes us.