Wednesday, October 5, 2011

FLETCHER AND THE FALLING LEAVES by Julia Rawlinson, illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke

Lexile.....AD650          Pages.....32          Ages.....3-6
AR Quiz No. 109976 EN Fiction
  IL: LG - BL: 3.2 - AR Pts: 0.5
  AR Quiz Types: RP

The first thing I noticed about Fletcher and the Falling Leaves was the illustration - the watercolor paintings are beautifully done in stunning autumn colors.  Fletcher, a young fox pup, is one of the cutest things on four feet!

The story opens with Fletcher noticing the almost daily differences in the world around him - the changing colors, the crisper sounds as he walks around, and his favorite tree is getting dry and brown.  Fletcher is very worried about his tree and tells his mother that he thinks his tree is sick.  She tells him, "'Don't worry, it's only autumn.'"  Fletcher accepts this thinking it's something that will get better soon.  When it doesn't, and the leaves start falling off the tree, poor Fletcher gets more and more distressed, trying to "fix" the tree by tying the leaves back on.  Then the squirrel takes some of the leaves for his nest and the porcupine takes some to keep warm.  This causes Fletcher to become more upset.  "'Help! Help!  The wind, the squirrel, and the porcupine are stealing our leaves,' cried Fletcher."

As the story goes on the tree has lost all of its leaves and Fletcher is despondent, thinking he has failed his friend.  One morning, though, he gets out of bed and goes to check on the tree and it is covered in icicles, sparkling in the early morning sun.  "'You are more beautiful than ever,' whispered Fletcher.  'But are you all right?'"  Nodding with the breeze the tree answers, making the icicles tinkle together with a sound like laughter.  At last, Fletcher knows his friend is okay and his worry is over.

I am rather conflicted about this book.  On one hand, as I have said, the illustrations are both beautiful and friendly.  Also, there are good lessons a child can learn if the book is read with an adult.  There is the lesson of caring for others, doing your best to help them.  You could even, depending on the age of the child, get into the idea that sometimes even if you do your best it might not be enough, but that there is no shame in it if they know they've done their very best.  There is also the lesson of the changing seasons and the physical changes that take place in the world around them.

However, what disturbs me is that even though Fletcher is a pup and the others in the story seem to be adult - Mother, Squirrel, and Porcupine - no one explains to Fletcher, despite his apparent distress, that all of what is happening is natural and that his friend is just fine.  I am concerned some children, especially the more sensitive ones, may experience some distress of their own if left to read the book alone.

I like Fletcher and the Falling Leaves, I really do.  Maybe I'm being too sensitive myself, but I feel it is a book best read together, child and adult.

Happy Reading!
Miss Laurie

You can find Fletcher and the Falling Leaves at the Lake County Public Library or click here
 and with your library card number and PIN, reserve a copy for pickup at your local branch.

1 comment:

  1. I agree about the distressing part. I haven't read this book with my children yet...but when I read the book myself and came to the part where Fletcher's mom said "Don't worry, it's only autumn." I thought that Fletcher would wonder what exactly autumn is and his mother would explain to him somehow. But instead he "ran back to his tree" and told it that "it's only autumn" like he knew what it meant. And clearly he didn't know at all, and unfortunately no one really explained it to him either. I don't know, maybe I'm being sensitive myself as well...