Fletcher and the Falling Leaves is a book about a fretful little fox who becomes worried about his favorite tree when it starts looking “dull, dry and brown.” He wants to know what he can do to help. ”The world was changing,” he noticed. “The rich green of the forest was turning to a dusty gold, and the soft, swishing sound of summer was fading to a crinkly whisper.”
This descriptive text, written by Julia Rawlinson, draws us in, creating a setting of sight and sound. We feel Fletcher’s concern for the tree and his confusion and panic as the tree’s leaves fall to the ground.
The soft, colorful, painterly art, by Tiphanie Beeke, supports the text. Small vignettes depict specific happenings throughout the book, while beautiful, full-page images create the setting and overall feeling of Fletcher’s world and the changing season. Watch for a surprise at the end, the tree has a whole new look.
The story provides a wonderful opportunity to talk to young children about the seasons and the changes that occur as we pass from one season to another. Below are some questions that you can use to start the conversation.
- What are the four seasons?
- What season are we experiencing now?
- What are some of the characteristics of the season?
- Are the days getting longer or shorter?
- What colors do you see in nature at this time?
- What nature sounds do you hear?
- Do the days feel cold, cool, hot, warm?
The story also offers a bigger life lesson— a lesson about fear subsiding when understanding is achieved, that knowledge is power. Because Fletcher does not understand what is happening to the tree, he is filled with fear and panic. How different he would feel if someone were to say to him, “Not to fear! You are witnessing the natural life cycle of this tree. In the spring, buds sprout on the branches, and those sprouts will grow into new leaves. As autumn arrives, the days and nights grow colder, causing the leaves to change color and fall off the tree. During the winter, the leafless tree will rest and get ready to grow new buds in the spring.” This explanation, this knowledge would calm him and allow him to understand the falling leaves as a natural occurrence, not a sign that tree is sick or in trouble. It’s all part of “the cycle of life.”
So snuggle up together and enjoy all that Fletcher and the Falling Leaves offers. Then head out into your own backyard or local nature preserve, watch the signs of the changing season, and maybe even find a favorite tree of your own. You may later have fun together doing an art activity that depicts the cycle of life as it plays out in the natural world.