Review: Yellow Time By Lauren Stringer

Sneaking in a new favorite fall picture book before the official Christmas and wintery books take over. I saw this book a few years ago, but never snagged a copy to view and review. It tends to be maxed out on holds at the library from September through November. Finally, we picked it up a couple weeks ago and it was just as much a delight as I was hoping. My girls immediately knew what it is about and love exclaiming about “yellow time” as we walk about the city in the height of leaf color. Join along as we celebrate this special, and very fleeting seasonal moment in Yellow Time by Lauren Stringer, 2016.

opening spread of Yellow Time with squirrels in the trees gathering nuts and text on the right.

The story is light and almost poetic as it points out the massive change in the trees that is seemingly overlooked by the busy and migrating animals. It points to the crows which stick around and become very vocal, almost beckoning us to notice their surroundings changing. And it speaks to the air changing smells.

spread of the book showing a neighborhood view of kids and adults and even a dog sniffing the changing air with yellow trees covering the sky above them.

Yellow time always comes before the trees turn white and everyone is ready, the text tells us. And then there is a giant whoosh as the wind makes the season live up to its familiar name – fall. The yellow leaves swirl and fly, filling windows and the sky with an abundance of yellow.

spread showing a mostly gray room with a large black grand piano and a bay window that looks like it is on fire outside with the yellow leaves swirling and filling the view. Children and a cat are all watching the leaves, playing the piano and leaving yellow knitting and drawings of yellow trees on the ground.

Yellow leaves catch on everything, including hair and hats, and then flood the ground in piles on every surface. The crows and the squirrels continuing to be busy, one now showing off singing in bare branches, and the other frantically adding the newly fallen leaves to their nests.

spread of a neighborhood view with children interacting with the fallen yellow leaves by prancing, raking, and walking through.

And children too collect leaves, “to remember what a lovely yellow time it was.”

spread of children down low picking up leaves, and squirrels in a branch above piling leaves in their nest.

This is one of those books that I like more every time I read it. I love the many details in the illustrations of the many different children engaging the season in different ways. I like the surprising views like the many aerial shots looking down onto the children or the animals in the trees. And surprisingly, I think the indoor picture of the gray room with the black grand piano might be my favorite spread. The world looks on fire with yellow out that bay window and you can see bits of the children’s activities on the ground – like knitting with yellow yarn and drawing pictures of the yellow trees. Charming details.

I wondered at first if this book was too nostalgic, as children live mostly in the present. But I think it hits just the right notes as it reminds of a very short moment in a season. The changing leaves happen so fast and are gone so quickly. And it is true, when the wind gushes and throws the leaves every which way – it feels very magical. Just yesterday I came home from a bike ride for school pickup and had a yellow leaf fall off of my helmet. It made us all laugh and smile at the audacity of those leaves to show off every change they get. And several of my bags have leaves carefully saved in pockets – that should be moved to books for pressing. I always wonder why we try to save the leaves each year, as I never remember when or where they came from precisely. But I love this book for giving me some joy and connection that we all do it. We all want to savor and save as much as we can from such a gift of a tiny moment in the year. I love yellow time, and I hope you’ll love the book as well.

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