Populating the tale with amusing characters, Ashley imbues Bud's world with the poignancy of inevitable change. He depicts a leaf's lifecycle without sermonizing to or infantilizing his readers. Striking, distinctive words like "squinty" and "grumpy" pepper the narrative, an opportunity for playful cadences from anyone reading the book aloud. However, Bud's relative isolation, which seems essential to the premise, goes undramatized, making the story’s stakes unclear. Some verbosity creeps into the prose near the ending, reducing the story’s sense of immediacy, and Bud overshadows the charming secondary cast.
Lauren Ashley’s winsome and captivating illustrations amplify the innocence and quirkiness of Bud's surroundings and enliven the story. Not only delightful, they seamlessly blend text with paintings in the page designs, greatly serving the pacing. Still, the tale eventually blossoms into a sweet triumph of love and friendship in the face of challenge and change, linking the cycles of nature to the sacrifices we make for our loved ones.
Takeaway: This charming picture book will delight and invite lively questions from young readers with its take on love, sacrifice, and the lives of leaves.
Great for fans of: Edward Monkton’s A Lovely Love Story, Oliver Jeffers’ Lost and Found, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s The Snail and the Whale.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-