Hello, friends! Our book today is Leaf by Sandra Dieckmann, a clever yet poignant tale about fear of the unfamiliar.
The crows saw him first, drifting toward the shore one moonlit night on a raft of rapidly melting ice. He took shelter in the old empty cave that the other animals steered clear of, and the whispers started soon after. He looked so different from the other animals, and even from the lush and colorful land around them, this great white bear. And he acted so strangely, wandering the forest every day and collecting leaves. The other animals called him Leaf, not because of his odd habit, because they wanted him to LEAVE. Too loud, too different – the other animals were so sure he didn’t belong, and felt threatened by his presence. But as the crows argue for compassion, Leaf does something entirely unexpected that just may encourage the animals to consider changing their point of view.
Simply lovely. While the story seems rather straightforward, there’s a lot going on here – through Leaf’s plight and the reactions of his new neighbors, readers learn lessons in empathy, consideration, helping others, and – most notably – caution against fear of otherness (even the choice of the polar bear, a species rapidly losing its habitat, is not an accident). It encourages us not to judge someone simply because they look, sound, or act differently from us, especially as they may have very good reasons, and may even need our help but don’t know how to ask. The art is simply stunning, an intricate symphony of color around the stark white polar bear, both engaging young eyes and providing a visual example of how Leaf differs from the new world he finds himself in. The length is great, and JJ loved all the animals and vibrant colors. A sweet story with some wonderful lessons, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!