Staff Picks: Fall in Love With Our Fall Favorites
Now that it’s starting to feel like fall, it’s time to break out the autumn books! If you’re looking for season inspired stories, read on for Warrenton Youth Services picks for fabulous fall fiction.
As dark descends a little earlier these fall days, consider settling in with this amusing book that the whole family can enjoy. The Scarecrow and His Servant by Phillip Pullman begins when lightning strikes a scarecrow on his knobbly turnip head. The Scarecrow springs to life as a gentlemanly fellow with dreams of adventure and glory. Describing himself as a ‘Scarecrow of enterprise and talent,’ he hires orphan Jack as his servant. The two set off on a whimsical journey where the Scarecrow becomes an actor, falls in love with a broom, loses parts of himself, is shipwrecked and more. Both are unaware that danger follows closely, and while the Scarecrow faces each new challenge with wacky optimism, it’s only Jack’s intelligence and resourcefulness that bring them through it all safely. This hysterical tale uses language in a playful way. Wonderful as a read-aloud, and available on cd, both children and adults will love this one by the author of The Golden Compass.
One gem of a picture book for toddlers and preschoolers is Phyllis Root’s Oliver Finds His Way. As a read-aloud it never fails to grab the little ones’ attention when Oliver, a young bear, becomes lost. He has left the family yard to chase a big yellow leaf “down the hill, around a clumpy bush, and under a twisty tree.” Suddenly Oliver realizes he doesn’t know where he is anymore. Illustrations by Christopher Denise perfectly capture the range of emotion felt by this little bear lost. After looking and crying, Oliver begins thinking, and then gives us a loud and satisfying Roar! This roar alerts his parents, and Oliver is able to follow their voices home. It’s a comforting ending and a good example if you ever feel lost.
∼ Becca, Reference Assistant
One of my favorites for fall is Wild Child by Lynn Plourde and illustrated by Greg Couch. ‘Mother Earth’ is trying to get her wild child to go to bed but there is always something more that has to happen – a common bedtime scenario in many homes! Wild child needs a song – crackling leaves, acorns falling, the flap of bird wings. And then a snack – pumpkins, apples, and cranberries. Pajamas, a kiss, and a blanket of snow, all described in fun-to-read rhymes and illustrated in bright autumn colors, finally allow mom to rest … then Winter comes rushing in.
And speaking of wild children, have you met the Herdman family? In The Best Halloween Ever by Barbara Robinson, the town mayor cancels Halloween to keep the six horrible Herdmans from creating mayhem. Certainly a candy-free (and therefore Herdman-free) Halloween party at school would be safe. But what is Halloween without candy? And, in the end, what is Halloween without Herdmans? Read it and find out who saves the day!
∼ Nancy, Reference Assistant
When October arrives my thoughts turn to crisp, clear days; corn mazes; apple picking; and pumpkin carving. Two of my favorite pumpkin books to share with children are Pumpkin Pumpkin, written and illustrated Jeanne Titherington, and Mousekin’s Golden House written and illustrated by Edna Miller.
“Pumpkin Pumpkin” details the life cycle of a pumpkin from a seed, to a tiny sprout and finally to a huge, orange pumpkin. The pictures are softly colored pencil illustrations that realistically portray the pumpkin field, with woodland animals appearing on each page. On the facing pages a few words or phrases describe what is happening. By Halloween the pumpkin is ready to be carved into a Jack O’Lantern, with seeds saved to begin again the next year. This is the perfect book to read before visiting a pumpkin patch or carving your annual Jack O’Lantern.
“Mousekin’s Golden House” has beautiful watercolor illustrations that accurately represent the woodland flora and fauna surrounding an abandoned Jack O’Lantern. Lyrical words weave the story of a small mouse that discovers the Jack O”Lantern and transforms it into a cozy winter home. This is a lovely story that can be shared with a broad range of listeners and readers. Mousekin also appears in a series of books that are equally appealing.” —∼ Ellen, Reference Assistant
There are many stories about bears preparing for winter, but my new-found favorite is Shh! Bears Sleeping by David Martin. Although the text is simple (but rich with imagery and a fine rhyme scheme), the artwork is stunningly illustrated; we see mama bear and her cubs emerging in the spring, enjoying the summer, and busy with preparations for their deep sleep in the winter, as well as other animals that share their habitat. For newly published books on bears in the winter, I always appreciate some acknowledgment that bears do not truly hibernate, even if it’s not fully explained in the actual story; Martin delivers an informative author’s note at the end that explains the difference between true hibernation (true hibernators are animals such as groundhogs, bats, and toads) and winter lethargy, which is what bears experience, as well as intriguing facts about the different kinds of bears, their diet, where they live, and more. This is also a perfect choice if you’re looking for a book that shows the full cycle of our seasons.
Finally, let’s look ahead to Thanksgiving with one of my favorite Thanksgiving-related books–and it’s not about turkeys or Pilgrims! If watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade is a fond memory, or one that you continue to enjoy with your family, check out Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade. Ever wonder who invented the famous “upside down” puppet balloons, and how they are created? Melissa Sweet brings Tony Sarg’s incredible story to life with her impeccable combination of winning storytelling and illustration skills (you’ll want to check out her other outstanding titles, including the Caldecott Honor titles A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams and The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus).”
∼ Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian