Happy fall everyone! (at least for those of us in the Western Hemisphere.) I was hoping to get this book up yesterday, for the actual first day of fall, but time escaped me. Regardless, it still feels incredibly appropriate as the weather around here hasn’t decided to move completely into cooler fall days quite yet. Summer is trying to give a last, weak hurrah while fall begins to show its colors. This book is lovely and a perfect fit for closing out the summer season and stepping into autumn. Take a walk from summer to fall with this inviting conversation between a little child and the participants of nature. Here’s Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak, 2016.
The cover of this book literally had me at hello when I spied it in the store. The art is breathtaking and I adore the movement from summer to fall within every spread and especially on the cover. But I am getting ahead of myself.
The text of the book is a dialogue between a little girl and nature. (I must be completely honest here and share that I totally thought this was a a little boy when I first read it. My girls thought it was a girl, and in fact, the colophon and book jacket flap note that it is a girl. I misread the hair for just a longer boy cut and some hipster clothing and was perfectly fine with my interpretation. It really doesn’t matter for the story. And I mention that because I actually like that it doesn’t matter. I love the character with brown skin, stylish clothes, and a friendly spirit. I love the converse shoes and the smart outfit topped off by a billowy red scarf. I love that it doesn’t scream gender stereotypes, but feels just right for celebrating the season. This is a book for everyone, and I love it. Because the author and book info clarified the gender for me, I will use the correct pronouns in the rest of the review.)
Leaving her house, the girl greets a late summer morning with hair and scarf blowing in the breeze. She greets the trees and they respond, telling how their branches sway in the sun with the cool winds coming in.
With every turn of the page, she says hello to another aspect of the world around – foxes and jays, walking sticks and butterflies, beavers and chipmunks – all getting ready in their own way for the coming autumn and cold winter. Her walk is a continual movement forward through the book past nature closing out summer, and then as a thundering storm approaches, she walks through the city streets noting the wind and the appearance of sweaters and scarves in the drizzle and chill.
In the city she spies leaves crowding the puddles and then she turns in the book, seemingly moving back the way she came and greeting the signifiers of autumn – the leaves and the early big orange sun. As she arrives home, she says goodbye to summer. And then hello to autumn. The book closes as it opens, with everything on the page just slightly different and covered in the beauty of fall.
It is no secret that I am a major fan of fall. It is my very favorite season, with absolutely no contenders even close to it. This book does a marvelous job celebrating the coming of fall and it makes my heart skip several beats turning the pages. I love spying all the signs of fall in real life and in this book too. The constant movement of the girl, encouraging every page turn and symbolizing the consistent movement of nature through the seasons, is brilliantly executed. There are so many wonderful details sprinkled throughout that an observant reader will catch – one of my favorites being her picking the last of the summer flowers and then silently gifting them to everyone she passes on the city street. I was totally delighted by this when I noticed it on the second or third read-through!
I also love that there is one wordless spread between the goodbye to summer and the hello to autumn. It is a perfectly placed pause.
But my very favorite detail of the book is that the little girl is always walking, stepping, or jumping throughout the book as she takes her final summer walk; and then she is sitting as she greets autumn. Fall is here. Time to sit and be awed by its entry.
This is a book I will be adding to our collection immediately, though I kind of wish I could also buy a bunch of prints of the illustrations and hang them everywhere. Pak’s work with watercolor and pencil, digitally enhanced to create the spreads is just beautiful. The uncoated paper choice for the book is awesome and the texture, palette, character proportions, and every detail are so stunning. I find myself turning and turning and turning through the book, just sighing at the beauty. I happily admire this book and cannot wait to greet the signs of autumn as we too say goodbye to summer and hello to autumn. Happy fall, friends!