In the Middle of Fall, written by Henkes and illustrated by his wife, Laura Dronzek, reads like a lovely poem to the experience of Fall. The first pages read,
In the middle of Fall,
When the leaves
have already turned
and the sky is mostly gray
and the air is chilly
and the squirrels are frisky…
There is simple and large text on each page highlighted with glorious illustrations in autumn hues. In typical Henkes fashion, the images offer ripe invitations for discussion. For example, a two-page spread that reads, “and the gardens are brown,” features a deep blue sky contrasted by brown earth and mighty, drooping sunflowers. There is a mouse peering over one big sunflower head and a big yellow bird is pecking away at the seeds in another head. These withered sunflowers are attractive to the animals. Why?
Words like frisky, ornament and gust are so rich. There is also a lovely lyrical quality to the text. On one spread, plump red apples drop from branches, accompanied by an observation that “the apples are like ornaments.” Take this moment to stop and talk about how the apples are like ornaments.
In the Middle of Fall ends with a lovely transition to the next season, Winter!
Fun with Reading
Falling, colorful leaves are a major part of Fall. They offer opportunities to talk about same and different: there are round leaves, pointed leaves, big leaves and small leaves etc. Play in the leaves, toss them in the air, and look closely at each one! Tuck one into your book to touch while you read.