Friday, January 27, 2012
Leaf Can Be...by Laura Salas, illustrated by Violeta Dabija
The poem drifts through the many functions of leaves, from shelter for animals to collecting sunlight, producing food to becoming food. In the second half of the poem, the author shows leaves' second life off the tree, in piles, coloring the hills, and providing medicines and ground cover.
Dabija's illustrations have a slight cartoonish look, softened by her lively colors that show a peaceful, green world. Some of the illustrations are a little confusing, as the reader tries to figure out exactly where the leaves are and what they're doing, as when it says "food maker" and the illustrations show a tree with oranges, implying that leaves make fruit, at least in my mind.
At the end, a "more about leaves" section identifies and explains in more detail each function described in poetic language. Some of the these explanations are so brief they don't really explain at all, "Sun Taker: One of the major jobs of a leaf is to take in sunlight" but most of the explanations are clear enough. A glossary identifies some of the words in the "more about leaves" section and a brief bibliography offers further reading.
The illustrations and poetic language seemed aimed at very young children, but the further information, especially with terms that needed definition in a glossary, for an older audience. This is a sweet book, but it tries a little too hard to be all things for all ages.
Verdict: The lovely illustrations and simply lyrical poem will make this a good storytime choice, but Millbrook is one of those publishers where it's library bound or nothing, so you'll have to decide if it's worth the extra five dollars. I'll wait and see what other easy nonfiction I need to buy this year before deciding.
ISBN: 9780761362036; Published Winter 2012 by Millbrook (I saw publication months ranging from January to March); Egalley provided by publisher through Netgalley