Hawk, Fran. 2009. Count Down to Fall. Illustrated by Sherry Neidigh. Mt. Pleasant, SC: Sylvan Dell.
There is much to like about Countdown to Fall. Ostensibly a counting book, its true value is in its leafy pages. Seasonal leaf identification is as easy as falling off a log with simple rhymes and realistic, double-spread illustrations.
Not all of the rhymes flow perfectly, but each offers a fun way to memorize each leaf type. Beech tree leaves are described "like yellow cat's eyes," and my favorite,
"Six linden leaves
in Valentine shapes
reflect golden sun
in autumn's landscape."
Linking the Linden tree's leaves to a Valentine shape is original and memorable.
The real beauty of this book, however, is in its illustrations. Four corner insets on each spread offer depictions of a leaf in spring, a leafy tree in autumn, a seed pod, and an autumn leaf. The illustrations are bordered by a lifelike depiction of the tree's bark. The featured artwork shows the tree sharing its habitat with the creatures of nature - bears, birds, bugs, and more.
For Creative Minds is an educational section that follows the story and contains simple quizzes (match the spring leaf to the autumn leaf) and questions. Click to see.
This book is a teacher's dream - engaging, entertaining, and educational.
(If you're a librarian, check the publisher's site for crafts to do in conjunction with each of Sylvan Dell's titles- cool!)