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As I was waking up this morning, I could see the treetops outside the bedroom window, yellow-green against the pale blue sky. And I started reciting "Nothing Gold Can Stay", Frost's spring-time poem that usually comes to mind for me in the autumn, when the leaves blaze orange and gold. The poem starts:

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.

You can read the rest of the poem, and more about the poem in my post from April 2009.

All that early morning thinking about leaves reminded me that I've been meaning to review A Leaf Can Be . . . , the marvelous picture book by my friend Laura Purdie Salas, illustrated by Violeta Dabija. It's one of those books that works on a lot of levels, and that fulfills a lot of different roles: it's a poem, it's a picture book, it's nonfiction . . . apparently, a leaf can be all those things.

The poem is told in two acts: the first one is a list (in rhyming couplets) of the various roles leaves play in spring and summer; the second is another list (again in rhyming couplets) of the roles leaves play in autumn and winter. Here is a spread from the warm weather list:

And here is the one that starts the cold weather list, which includes one of the three "framing" poems inside the book:

These two lists are framed by three short stanzas: one to introduce spring/summer, one to introduce autumn/winter, and a closing one that urges readers to go find out more about leaves:

A leaf is a leaf--
a bit of a tree.
Now go and discover
what else it can be!

At the end of the book are four pages of additional facts about leaves, providing additional information about the list of things a leaf can be. For example, for "lake glider" (seen in the fall/winter spread, above) it says "Some leaves skim across the surface of the lake like tiny sailboats." After the four pages of facts comes a glossary, defining words like "chlorophyll" and "welts", which are used in the poem or in the fact pages.

A terrific example of simple rhyme, of a list poem, and of a book that manages to make music with its words. It's paired with wonderful illustrations, and is just the sort of thing to set kids' imaginations flying.

Perhaps, as Frost said, "nothing gold can stay," but this book is a keeper.

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 21st, 2013 08:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much, Kelly! I'm honored by your kind words, and I'm very excited to be in a post featuring Frost poetry, too!

We have no leaves but evergreen needles visible here in Minnesota right now...maybe soon...
Apr. 21st, 2013 09:31 pm (UTC)
Re: Thanks!
I'm glad you liked the post, Laura. The book is spectacularly good!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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