Review: My Autumn Book By Wong Herbert Yee

It’s the first official day of Autumn over here in the Northern hemisphere. While we are suddenly having a warm spell again, thanks but no thanks New York, I’m ready to fully embrace my favorite time of year! While perusing the library a couple weeks ago, I spied this little book on a shelf. It’s size and topic were too cute to pass up. Allow me to share this sweet book with you on this glorious Autumn Equinox. Here is My Autumn Book by Wong Herbert Yee, 2015.

The first thing that drew me to this book was its size. We all know how much I love tiny books. While it doesn’t exactly qualify as tiny, measuring about 6½ x 8 inches, I still can’t resist an unconventional size.

The story narrates in first person, beginning with observations about the air and the sky, and wondering if autumn is on its way. The child then rushes outside to investigate.

Searching in the shed, the yard, and the woods; the child notes changes and snaps photos of her observations. Crickets in the clover, chilly wind, cicadas buzzing, leaves changing and falling… so many things that spread the news about the coming season.

She collects information and some objects and then returns to her room to make a book: an Autumn book. It is her way of remembering the favorite changes and observations of Autumn, and especially throughout the rest of the year until it returns again.

The simplicity of this book keeps me hooked. I love the topic of fall of course, but I also love the tone of this book. The girl decides on her own to investigate the changes and document them. There are a few adults appearing in the background, always a good idea for depth; but the story is her own. And I love “collecting” books. Yes, I do collect books as well, but the subject of “collecting” is such a childhood thing. With children of my own who love to fill pockets and bags with objects that catch their eye – natural or found – a collecting book is always a delight.

I also adore the idea of making a little book about the season! Making books is obviously a love of my own; but I definitely want to do this idea with my kids too! Realistically, there are some tactical issues: how did she print the pictures so fast and on her own? How did she bind it? (I spy a spiral binding in that first image, but the spiral is missing in a later page. Hmm.) The idea is still charming and we are up to the challenge of coming up with our own!

Lastly, I am charmed by the illustrations. I was not familiar with Wong Herbert Yee until discovering this book (though I realize I have seen his work as I looked through his bio!). In fact, I assumed it was vintage due to the style of the character and illustrations (and the book is a bit beat up too, but that would be the library factor I’m sure!) But the book was published in 2015. I do love the clever simplicity in Yee’s illustrations. Created with colored pencils on watercolor paper, the illustrations are muted and textured. There is a looseness to the edges of objects and I particularly love the way the texture is perfect for the bark, leaves, grass, sweaters, carpet, animals…. I don’t often think of colored pencil in this way for a finished piece of art; so I am delightfully surprised and drawn to it.

I would be remiss not to mention that this book is part of a pseudo series by Yee! All four seasons have a little book of their own. I’m on the hunt for them all!

I cannot wait to read this book with my girls this afternoon. Homemade pumpkin chocolate chip muffins are cooling on the counter, the fall decorations have been pulled out, and we’re celebrating the new season whether the weather is ready or not! Happy Autumn!

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