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A Leaf Can Be...


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About the Author

Laura Purdie Salas is the author of more than 120 books for kids and teens, including Water Can Be..., A Leaf Can Be..., and Bookspeak! Poems about Books. Poetry and rhyming books are her favorite things to write, and she loves to combine poetry/verse with nonfiction. Laura loves to do school visits (in-person and Skype), writing workshops, and teacher inservices. Read more about Laura and her work at Violeta Dabija lives in Moldova, a small Eastern European country. She has a strong traditional art background, a BA degree in Fine Arts/Graphic Design and 10 years of experience as a children's book illustrator. She works in both traditional and digital media and often mixes them to produce delicate and atmospheric illustrations with a traditional feel. She has illustrated about 25 children's books and she enjoys creating magic pictures and unique environments for her characters.


"'A leaf is a leaf' begins this imaginative picture book, which goes on to suggest many other things that a leaf can be: 'Soft cradle / Water ladle / Sun taker / Food maker.' Each two-word phrase has a meaning to be figured out with the help of the artwork. A little knowledge of science is definitely helpful, but those who don't know that a leaf can be, for example, an 'Air cleaner / Earth greener, ' the appended section 'More about Leaves' offers a bit of information explaining each concept, as well as a glossary and a short reading list. Most of the phrases are illustrated on single pages, though occasionally they double up or share a double-page spread, such as the dazzling autumn-landscape spread illustrating 'Pile grower / Hill glow-er.' While this poetic text concerns concepts rather than narrative, the changing seasons create an underlying structure. Some of the illustrations, muted in tone, seem magical and mysterious, while others are joyfully, spectacularly colorful. A great read-aloud choice for fall story hours and classroom units on leaves." --Booklist


"Playful rhyming text explores the many roles a leaf can play, from providing shelter for animals in the rain ('Rain stopper') to housing cocoons ('Soft cradle'), to purifying the air ('Air cleaner'), to providing autumnal entertainment for children ('Pile grower'). The terms are poetically focused, yet they compactly sum up some complicated processes, so the book offers abundant opportunity for discussion of scientific concepts from photosynthesis ('Sun taker / Food maker') to camouflage ('Moth matcher' and 'Snake concealer'). An accessible and useful explanatory note at the end of the book breaks down the meaning of each verse in detailed paragraphs, providing the lesson for each reference (e.g., 'Hill glow-er: In fall, the weather cools off and days grow shorter. Leaves stop making chlorophyll, the substance that turns them green'). Dabija's light-infused digital compositions balance crisp-edged elements against soft, misty effects, the style counterpointing the stylized, toylike figures with carefully designed compositions and sophisticated use of controlled palettes. Each spread is bursting with natural wonder, and while the animals are cute rather than realistic, the art creatively and effectively supports the text's evocation of the leafy world. This is an ideal curricular introduction to a unit on leaves, but it will also find plenty of readers drawn to its rich language and portrayal of the natural world. A glossary and list of further reading are included." --The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books


"This creative book is applicable to a wide variety of lessons, but will also be in demand by readers for sheer enjoyment. It pairs an imaginative rhyming text with captivating and dreamlike illustrations that will be an effective discussion starter for the primary classroom studying leaves and trees. Students will be captivated as they explore the varying contributions leaves make to nature and wildlife through the seasons. The whimsical metaphors and unique vocabulary, which is explained in the final section, make this book a standout choice for older students too." --Library Media Connection


"A leaf's various purposes are contemplated in this gentle celebration of nature. Fresh leaves burst forth in Salas' opening stanza, followed by two- to four-word couplets listing a leaf's many functions. This pattern continues for fall and winter, allowing her rhymed verse to reinforce the cyclical nature of the seasons. What pours forth in free-association-like fashion is sometimes poetic ('Wind rider / Lake glider'), oftentimes purposeful ('Air cleaner / Earth greener') and mostly playful ('Frost catcher / Moth matcher'). Dabija's soft, ethereal illustrations lend a warmth and vibrancy to the text. Her palette, dictated by the weather, is full of lush greens, sultry browns, golden yellows and dusky blues. Through heavy use of the computer, she layers textures into varied patterns and shapes, giving each illustration an organic feel. While this effect is skillfully used on the backgrounds, it is less effective on the primary objects, leaving people and animals to appear pasted in, rather than integrated into the artwork. Compositionally, the images are nicely designed, but since one does not visually lead to the next, they are more like tableaux than a continuous visual narrative. An addendum explaining the author's word choices (what does she mean by 'mouth filler'?) is included, as well as a suggested reading list and glossary. Simple and pleasing, with classroom-discussion and read-aloud appeal." --Kirkus Reviews


"In this lyrical paean to leaves, author Laura Purdie Salas uses the imagery, rhyme and rhythm of poetry to describe, with complete yet whimsical accuracy, the many functions of a leaf. As the seasons change, a leaf changes from the 'soft cradle' and 'water ladle' of spring to the 'wind rider' and 'lake glider' of fall. Beautiful paintings by Violeta Dabija capture the energy and color of the seasons, from the tender exuberance of spring to the brown and orange hues of autumn to the quiet frost-speckled sepia tones of winter. Salas extends her minimal text with back matter that includes additional information about leaves and a list of resources. This book is sure to open a child's eyes to the wonder of the natural world." --Washington Parent


"Salas explores the many functions a leaf can serve with simple grace. 'A leaf is a leaf--/ a bit of a tree./ But when cool days come chasing, / it can also be a... Lake glider/ Wind rider/ Pile grower/ Hill glow-er/ Frost catcher/ Moth matcher.' Dabija bathes her mixed-media scenes in a fuzzy glow, creating a welcoming environment in every spread. Leaves serve as a 'Bat shelter' in a rainforest enclave, and as a 'Ground warmer' in a snowy, mint green clearing. Appended notes elaborate upon the poetic descriptions, providing more insight into the integral roles that leaves play in life cycles." --Publishers Weekly


"'A Leaf Can Be . . ., ' written by Laura Purdie Salas and illustrated by Violeta Dabija, explores the many forms and functions of its subject. 'A leaf is a leaf. / It bursts out each spring / when sunny days linger / and orioles sing, ' the book begins, with a cheerful treetop glimpse of emerging leaves, fluttering pollen and chirping orange birds. We then see how a leaf can be a 'soft cradle' for moths' cocoons or a ladle for a thirsty lamb. It can be a 'rain stopper' for two foxes in a storm or a 'shade spiller' for a girl on a swing. Dabija, a Moldovan illustrator, saturates her pictures with lush color. Of course, there is lots of green but also dusty orange, misty lavender and deep mustard, in what is as much an exploration of the variation of color as it is of nature's changeability. . . . Grown-up readers may be a bit in awe too." --The New York Times Book Review


"In a simple rhyming text, Salas examines the ways that leaves play a part in our world's ecosystem. They can softly cradle moths, act as a water ladle for animals, shade people and creatures, shelter from the rainfall, provide meals, clean the air, warm the ground, etc. The rhyme is a bit forced at times, but the acrylic-and-ink folk-art-like illustrations are charming and help to balance out that shortcoming. Dabija uses greens and oranges with a smattering of other colors that complement her palette. With a spare text and full-page illustrations, the book has a layout that can be successfully used in storytime presentations. A lovely observation about nature, suitable for a variety of science units or individual sharing." --School Library Journal


"A smart, sweet, and savvy meditation on form and function as well as a lesson in rhyming and alliteration that explores the many roles of a leaf 'Air Cleaner/Earth Greener. Wind rider/Lake Glider.' The inventive text and gentle, collage-like illustrations introduce an immediate way to appreciate how integrated our outdoor environment is, while they also encourage our imagination to take flight. Ages five to eight." --ForeWord Magazine


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