Forget Christmas. For me, the most wonderful time of the year has always been Autumn.
The sweat of Summer has subsided (along with the sneezes of hayfever), the tights come back out and there are harvest festival, Halloween and Bonfire Night celebrations to enjoy.
While this time of year heralds the end of nature’s annual cycle, I always feel a sense of fresh starts and anticipation for the future – a new school year with a clean page and the promise of Christmas ahead.
But the best part of my favourite season is the show put on by the trees as they change colour with less fanfare but more class than the fifth of November fireworks.
The glory of ‘The Fall’ as the Yanks call it even draws people to places like New England and Japan to marvel at the wonder of nature.
Indeed, the year Baby Bookworm was born blessed us with a particularly vivid display. I thought it might just be because I was on maternity leave and able to enjoy it properly but there was a scientific reason apparently – a combination of wet spring and warm autumn.
I’d happily crunch and kick my way through fallen leaves of red, orange and gold with the buggy, the old school hymn Autumn Days as my soundtrack.
This might explain why I’ve fallen for A Pile of Leaves, an ingenious wordless board book inspired by this simple seasonal pleasure.
Each page is transparent acetate with leaf-shaped images in bold Pantone colours of the season. As you flick through them, it’s like you are hunting through a pile in the park, deconstructing and reconstructing as you work through it.
And there are secrets and treasures hidden within, like insects, lost keys and a dropped mitten.
It is a brilliantly clever idea by authors and graphic designers Jason Fulford and Tamara Shopsin, using the physical form of a book and bold imagery to inspire imaginative play and spark conversation between parent and child as they look through.
Baby Bookworm finds it surprisingly engrossing while his new brother likes to stare at the bright forms on the pages.
There is a collage-like feel which may inspire your own autumnal artworks later on or perhaps you can use the book on walks to identify tree species? There is a handy guide to the leaf shapes at the back.
A Pile of Leaves is a collaboration between publishers Phaidon and the Whitney Museum of American Art, proving what I’ve long thought – picture books are real works of art.
And even if the weather is gloomy and wet, you can still dive right into the pile and enjoy the glorious colours of the season from the comfort of your own sofa.
A Pile of Leaves by Jason Fulford and Tamara Shopsin. £12.95 (board book), Phaidon. Available to buy from Amazon
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