Fall is magical to kids; jumping in piles of leaves, donning that new cozy jacket and anticipating Halloween’s excitement. These books ease children into the cooler, crisper season.


By Michael Hall; HarperCollins; 40 pages; $17.99

Short poems highlighted by titles with the word “fall” in each one — Thankfall, Dutifall, Wistfall — make up Wonderfall, Michael Hall’s new celebration of autumn.

Fifteen different blended words add an element of wordplay and imagination. “​Forcefall” reads “Whoosh, whoosh, whoa! What wild, whirling wind!” “​Delightfall” says, “What’s this? Oh, my! My friends found a piece of pumpkin pie,” with a festive illustration of raccoons and squirrels scurrying in leaves and trees.

Peacefall, Watchfall and Helpfall are a few of the other words used. He ends the book flowingly with “Snowfall!”

I like Hall’s bold, large, friendly images that cleanly showcase fall’s colors.

At the end he includes a “Getting Ready for Winter” section with more information on hibernating, migrating and active animals and trees.

Bella’s Fall Coat

By Lynn Plourde; illustrations by Susan Gal; Disney Hyperion; 34 pages; $17.99

Bella is a whirling force of nature, twirling, whirling, crinkling and crackling in the fall leaves in Bella’s Fall Coat. She turns herself into a leaf monster and plucks and munches apples off a tree; she even honks and flaps like a flock of geese.

But Grams notices Bella’s favorite coat is too small, and when Bella finally snoozes, Grams “snipped and clipped. She pushed and pulled. She whirred and snored” and eventually concocted a new coat, with orange dots and a pink collar, and deep pockets for treasures, that Bella can stretch and flap in.

Lynn Plourde’s rollicking, rolling words fit the flopping leaves and Bella’s zesty personality perfectly. Retro-fun illustrations by Disney animator artist Susan Gal are appealingly refreshing and as happy as that first crunchy leaf pile. Bella also learns that “out with the old, in with the new” can be a good thing.

Because of an Acorn

By Lola M. Schaefer and Adam Schaefer; illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon; Chronicle Books; 32 pages; $16.99

“Because of an acorn, a tree. Because of a tree, a bird,” begins Because of an Acorn, a cumulative tale that showcases the vital connections between the layers of an ecosystem. Since this cycle begins with an acorn and its’ pages feature, besides greens, lush autumn hues of ambers and muted browns, the small picture book fits the fall books grouping succinctly.

Animals — hamster, snake, chipmunk — are plentiful, and the layered, beautiful pictures make Because of an Acorn a truly lovely nature book.

More important now than ever, taking care of nature is vital. Young children will learn how valuable trees and forests are to animals’ lives, all because of an acorn. Young naturalists will enjoy the back page spread, which includes more information about white oak trees, ecosystems, acorns and how people cannot survive without forests.

A “What Can You Do to Help?” section from the Natural Resources Defense Council will inspire kids to use fewer paper products, recycle, buy recycled products and visit forests.

This Is the Earth

By Diane Z. Shore and Jessica Alexander; illustrated by Wendell Minor; HarperCollins; $17.99

Another inspiring, important ode to nature is This Is the Earth.

“This is the Earth that we treat with respect, where people and animals interconnect, where we learn to find balance between give and take and help heal the planet with choices we make,” yet with a wake-up call about pollution and environmental damage.

Most important, this ode to the Earth ends with helpful prompts about walking and biking, reusable bags, saving water and learning to heal nature. Wendell Minor’s artwork of animals is glorious.

Applesauce Weather

By Helen Frost; illustrated by Amy June Bates; Candlewick Press; 103 pages; $14.99

A beautifully-told-in-verse tale, Helen Frost’s book, Applesauce Weather, a Junior Library Guild Selection, for ages 7 to 10, is heartfelt, homey and lovely. It stars siblings Faith and Peter, who anxiously await their Uncle Arthur’s visit now that it’s applesauce weather.

Arthur though misses his wife, Lucy, and is slower to start with his charm and wise stories. Eventually he does warm up, prompted by Peter’s crush on a girl. The stories about carving initials in a tree, and about a peddler from Arthur’s childhood, and about a sharp pocket knife start to flow. Even dearly departed Lucy chimes in with a poetic verse or two, and the relationship between niece, nephew and uncle regains its specialness.

Frost’s poetic words and story about Uncle Arthur’s quirky past give Applesauce Weather a vintage, timeless appeal that emphasizes family. Amy June Bates’ black and white illustrations only add to the classic feel of this special book.

— Lee Littlewood writes the Kids’ Home Library column for Creators. The San Diego wife and mom’s pure love of children’s literature helps her stay interested in words and pictures meant for tots to teens. Click here to contact her, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.