by David Ezra Stein
A yearling bear doesn't understand why the leaves are falling off the trees. She tries to help by putting them back where they belong but as the season progresses they fall faster than she can put them back. Finally she gathers them up and takes them back to her lair in a hill just under a tree, lining her cave and stuffing the entrance solid with all the leaves she can.
Snow falls. Snow melts. Spring comes and with out pops the hibernating bear. The buds on the trees seem to welcome the older bear and she welcomes the leaves back.
The child-like qualities of the bear never seem cute, the text never talks down to the reader, and in doing presents an awareness of fall from an innocent perspective. Nature in the end forces the bear to reconcile her desire to put the leaves back with a biological need to sleep and she makes the best of both urges.
In his simple, sweet and loose watercolor style Stein tells us this tale in colors much warmer than his Cowboy Ned and Andy books, and rightfully so. There a quality to the illustration reminiscent of William Steig (the master of the loose watercolor) at his whimsiest.
It's fall, people. Perfect book of the season for the lapsitters.