A Leaf Can Be...
written by Laura Purdie Salas; illustrated by Violeta Dabija
2012 (Millbrook Press)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
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A leaf can be a ...
Soft cradle; Water ladle
Sun taker; Food maker
Lovely: Having a beauty that appeals to the heart or mind as well as to the eye. (Dictionary.com)
A Leaf Can Be... is lovely. The appeal to the heart for me is the number of connections I made while reading this book of leafy verse. I remember raking leaves with my grandmother and the woods that I played in as a child. The leaf booklet I made with wax paper in 5th grade and the beauty of the western North Carolina mountains in fall. Appealing to my mind were all the uses of a leaf Laura Purdie Salas manages to put into this book. Versatile is not the first word I think of when I hear leaf, but they can serve so many purposes. A lesson on theme using this book could be taught with the idea that leaves are essential to life. I would think about doing a before, during, and after reading circle map with young readers. I would write this question above the circle: "What can you do with a leaf?". You can have students suggest ideas for the map as a whole class and with turn-and-talk partners. There are also vocabulary lessons to be had with words like concealer and welter. Many of the two word phrases could also be introductions to science lessons on topics like photosynthesis or camouflage. The appeal to the eye is the sumptuous artwork by Violeta Dabija. I'm not terribly eloquent when describing illustrations, so all I can say is that I love these pictures. The combinations of blue and green are wonderful.
A Leaf Can Be... could also serve as a fun shared reading experience with younger readers. They will enjoy reading this book several times. It wouldn't be difficult to create a reader's theater script out of the text and have students draw leaves on bulletin board paper to serve as a backdrop for your performance. I would add A Leaf Can Be... to my science and poetry collections.