Count Down to Fall by Fran Hawk
Illustrated By: Sherry Neidigh
Geared Towards: Ages 4-8
Published By: Sylvan Dell
Publication Date: July 2009
Nature is beautiful no matter what the time of year, but when Fall arrives there is no mistaking it for any other season. We know the minute it begins because the tree leaves start to shift from their vivid greens to an awe inspiring array of brilliant colors. Rich reds, stunning purples, golden yellows, bright oranges, and deep browns. Each of these will eventually fall to the ground, leaving the tree sparse and bare in preparation for Winter.
It is this evolution author Fran Hawk and illustrator Sherry Neidigh have given life to in their book Count Down to Fall. Perfect to read, right now, as we embark on the close of Summer and make our way head long into the cool, brisk days of Autumn. Readers who live in areas where the seasons do complete this phenomenal change, will assuredly find themselves inspired to look at nature a whole new way after reading this fun and informative book.
Count Down to Fall is a journey through the woods, past ten different deciduous trees. Through the rhyming stanza storyline, Hawk educates her readers about the different types of trees and what their leaves look like as they release their hold on their branches and start their slow, flutter to the ground. But the learning doesn't stop there. No, like with every Sylvan Dell release, there's more educational aspects hidden inside the fun story exterior. In addition to teaching readers about each specific tree, leaf, and fruit this book also teaches basic backwards counting from ten to one.
Remember, I said there were ten different trees featured, and the author has cleverly written her tale to show each tree losing a certain number of leaves. Starting with the first tree, the sweet gum, ten leaves falls to the ground. Next nine leaves float lazily down from the dogwood tree. I won't give any more away by continuing to list the trees, but you get the point.
Don't worry that young readers will shy away from this one because of the educational benefits. For as has been mentioned already, Sylvan Dell's line always blends the perfect amount of fun with education. Your kids won't even realize they're learning until it's too late!
Illustrated by the ever so talented Sherry Neidigh, this book will leave you counting down the days until you can see the changes in nature for yourself first hand. Bright, bold illustrations bring home the beauty of nature in the Autumn, and show readers just exactly what each tree and leaf should like. Seriously, I simply love how Neidigh incorporated so many aspects in to each of her lovely pictorial spreads. Each picture shows what the tree looks like in Fall; a close up of the bark, leaves- both in Summer and Fall, and any fruit the tree produces (such as pinecones and nut); and it presents it in it's natural environment, complete with pictures of the animals that would be living in, on, or around it. It's a complete illustration package.
The "Creative Minds" section, found at the end of the story, is another fine example of what Sylvan Dell brings to the table through their books. The first section gives information about each plant part (stems, seeds, roots, etc), and then has the reader match the part descriptions with a small picture of each one, as found in the story. The second section touches on the various shapes, sizes, and colors of the leaves. Again, readers are given a descriptive list of the shapes, and then are asked to match them to the pictures of leaves featured on the page. The third section talks about the importance of plants, and shows how each animal in the story relys on those plants for basic survival. Lastly, in the fourth section of the "Creative Minds" portion of the book readers are given pictures of five types of leaves in both their Fall and Summer state. They're then asked to match the leaves into pairs.
It's the best of both worlds, where in parent's are concerned. Your child reads this and enjoys a short break from the craziness of today's technology dependant world. He uses his brain as he not only processes the story and plays the games, but also as he learns something new. The best part of all, he has no idea how educational the experience actually was!
Fall is almost upon us, and with it comes the relief of cooler temperatures and the beauty of changing leaves. So, can you think of a better time than now to settle down with your child to read Sylvan Dell's new release, Count Down to Fall by Fran Hawk? I certainly can't.
OUR RATING: 5 hearts