Book review: Autumn by Gerda Muller

The trees in the park have turned beautiful shades of red and yellow; the paths are littered with crunchy leaves and prickly horse chestnuts; the sky is grey and soggy; the wind is blowing – and, fittingly, our copy of Autumn by Gerda Muller has arrived in the post!

I had a quick flick through this before settling down to read it with BabyGirl. My first impression was that Muller has perfectly captured the feeling of autumn with her lovely illustrations – the mellow, muted colours on each page are spot on and there is a nice mixture of autumnal activities on display.

As the book doesn’t feature any text, these images are centre stage. Overall, I think they work really well and provide plenty to talk about. BabyGirl happily looked through the pages with me, pointing out the things that particularly interested her, such as the red squirrel hiding in the tree, the man collecting cratefuls of apples and the boy pushing homemade boats in a puddle. These are just a few of the lovely details that we spotted on our first reading.

As well as letting BabyGirl take the reins, I talked about what we could see on each page and drew her attention to certain parts. The pictures include three double page spreads showing seasonal scenes: apple picking and playing in the puddles; a woodland walk, stopping to collect conkers and climb on fallen logs; flying a kite on a blustery day. In addition, these scenes are interspersed with double page spreads showing several smaller pictures that highlight aspects of the autumn, such as jumping in a pile of leaves, walking in the rain, making a leaf collage and a hedgehog snuggled in its nest.

So far, so good. What is not to like about the book? Well, there are a couple of images that I was a bit dubious about: in particular, two boys playing with a bonfire and using a sharp knife. Perhaps that is just me being overly cautious, though… As BabyGirl gets older, I will probably add a message about being careful with dangerous things such as fire and knives! The only other potential negative is the lack of text. I think the pictures provide enough to talk about – but I am a pretty talkative person, so some parents might feel a bit lost without a story to read out loud.

Most importantly, what does BabyGirl think of Autumn? She seems to really enjoy finding small details to point at in the books that we read and this is certainly a good book for that. She has been pulling it out of the book basket and bringing it to me to read with her, so I think it gets her seal of approval.

Verdict: One for the book basket!

Autumn is a gentle, engaging book for both babies and toddlers. The illustrations have enough detail to provide plenty of scope for re-reading but aren’t so jam-packed as to be overwhelming. As there is no text, it is up to us to ‘tell the story’. At the moment, this is a job for me but as BabyGirl gets older, I hope this will encourage her to make up the words to go with the pictures, which will be great for encouraging storytelling and imagination. I really like this ‘open ended’ aspect of the book and am tempted to buy the other titles in this seasonal series – Winter, Spring and Summer.

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