In the Middle of Fall by Kevin Henkes (review)
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Reviewed by
Henkes, Kevin In the Middle of Fall; illus. by Laura Dronzek. Greenwillow/HarperCollins, 2017 [32p]
Library ed. ISBN 978-0-06-257312-4 $18.89
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-06-257311-7 $17.99
Reviewed from galleys R* 3-6 yrs

This imagistic picture book takes the audience into “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.” Further autumnal details unspool, until a brisk wind sends the leaves flying and “everything is yellow and red and orange.” Soon, though, the book reminds viewers, “the yellow and red and orange will be gone” and the leaves blowing around will be replaced by snow. Henkes’ gentle but vivid text has a cozy rhythm that makes this a lulling and evocative readaloud, with a vision of fall as clear and crisp as the season itself; the breezy cadence and simple structure might also lend this to use by beginning readers. Dronzek’s full-bleed acrylic illustrations lean on autumnal russets and oranges, using the changing colors of the sky as it moves from slate to cyan for vibrant contrast that then shifts to more subdued tones as winter approaches. A small story winds through the visuals as a child and dog cavort across the landscape as it changes, observed by a friendly squirrel; viewers will appreciate the continuity and enjoy the seek-and-find aspect of the squirrel’s reappearance. This would be a lovely followup to Pak’s Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn (BCCB 9/16) in a journey around the seasons.

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