From the Beacon: Falling for autumn's best children's books

I grew up in an area that had four distinct seasons, and autumn was my favorite of the four.

Days were getting cooler, and nights meant blankets were on the bed. It was time to dig in the closet for the jackets, and it was sweater weather. The leaves were turning all sorts of gorgeous colors and beginning to cover the ground, which meant it was raking time.

Days got shorter, and apple cider started to appear on the farm stands and on the grocers' shelves. Pumpkin patches

appeared on the side of the road. Just about now, it was time to give some thought to what to wear for Halloween -- store bought or homemade?

Here in the South Carolina Lowcountry, we don't have such a distinct autumn season. But for those of us who remember the comfort of colored leaves and crisp breezes, I would like to recommend some delightful children's books that are available in the Beaufort County Library to create those invigorating sensations of the season called "autumn."

"The Leaf Man," by Lois Ehlert: This award-winning book is a harvest feast for the eyes. The leaf man, the animals and the birds are composed of leaves and items found in nature. The pages are die-cut into a variety of shapes to follow the progression of the story. The endpapers are a field guide to the leaf shapes used in the book. It also has a great refrain that children love to chant as it repeats itself throughout the story.

"Autumn: An Alphabet Acrostic," by Steven Schnur: This is a compilation of 26 acrostic riddles about autumn, one for each letter of the alphabet. The bright, hand-colored linoleum block prints are distinct and provide clues for the riddles. The answer to each letter's riddle is spelled out in the first letter of each line of the acrostic poem. (There is an acrostic alphabet book for each season.)

"Possum's Harvest Moon," by Anne Hunter: Dancing under the harvest moon! Possum invites all his friends to a last party before everyone tucks in for the winter. His little critter friends are busily preparing for cold weather, but finally they join in the harvest moon celebration. The watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations are done in subdued fall and evening colors.

"When Autumn Falls," by Nidey Kelli: The title is a play on words, and the story emphasizes all the things that "fall" in the autumn. The temperature, the leaves, the apples and even football players fall. The story is simply told in rhyming text and the cut-paper illustrations are done in the colors of the season. This book will delight younger readers.

"The Best Fall of All," by Laura Goodwin: This book is part of the Happy Honey series of Ready-to-Read books for beginning readers. Honey (cat) and Happy (dog) are best friends. Together, they have fun playing with pumpkins and falling leaves. Finally, they curl up together in a pile of cozy leaves to enjoy a little nap. It has simple repetitive text which will appeal to children just learning to read.

Let's hope for some cooler sweater weather, a colorful display by the Bradford pear trees and a huge assortment of pumpkins at the roadside stands. And don't forget to enjoy some apple cider!

Jean Morgan is the Children's Services manager at the Bluffton Branch of the Beaufort County Public Library, located at 120 Palmetto Way, Bluffton.