Day 29: A leaf can be many things

Each day leading up to the April 13 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, we highlight one of the thirty-two finalists. Today we feature 2013 Children’s Literature Finalist:

A Leaf Can Be… by Laura Purdie Salas, illustrated by Violeta Dabija
Published by: Millbrook Press/Lerner Publishing Group, Inc.
Category Sponsor: Books For Africa

A Leaf Can Be

In poetic language and simple rhyming text, the author extolls the many uses of a leaf. The words she chooses are delightful, imaginative, and downright fun to say; for instance, she describes a leaf as a “soft cradle” paired with a “water ladle,” and a “frost catcher” paired with a “moth matcher.” An appendix includes explanations of each of the phrases used to describe leaves in the body. There are also a glossary and suggestions for further reading. The illustrations pulse with life on every page, giving off an almost ethereal glow. One accompanies the phrase “hill glow-er” and shows the many colors of trees during the fall. This book is satisfying on every level, and can certainly find its way on many science teachers’ book lists.


A leaf is a leaf
a bit of a tree.
But when cool days come chasing,
it also can be a …

Wind rider
Lake glider
Pile grower
Hill grow-er


Laura Purdie Salas is the author of more than 90 poetry and nonfiction books for kids. Her titles include Bookspeak!: Poems about Books and Stampede!: Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School. Laura knows leaves can be many things. She has turned them into umbrellas, Barbie clothes, love notes, tiaras, fans, and artwork. She lives with her family in Minnesota and watches the leaves change throughout the seasons.

Violeta Dabija has illustrated more than 25 children’s books. She enjoys combining traditional and digital techniques to create delicate and atmospheric illustrations. She lives in Chisinau, Moldova—a beautiful city where springtime is more enchanting than anywhere else. Violeta draws her inspiration from the sound of the breeze through the green branches, the smell of the warm spring rain, and the birds singing on blossoming trees.

Watch the A Leaf Can Be… trailer!


“A smart, sweet, and savvy meditation on form and function as well as a lesson in rhyming and alliteration that explores the many roles of a leaf…” — Kirkus Reviews

“Poetry, science and gorgeous art all wrapped together. This book is sure to inspire and enthrall many young readers (and adults as well.)” — Wrapped in Foil Blog

“What’s better than a beautifully illustrated nonfiction picture book? One that can be used to delight preschoolers, introduce poetry, or present science concepts. A Leaf Can Be… does it all.” — Shelf-Employed Blog

“Life is not an either/or proposition. Day goes with night. Love goes with pain. And science goes with poetry... Nature inspires both poetry and science, and Nature is at the heart of Laura Purdie Salas‘s A Leaf Can Be…  Beginning, like a leaf itself, in Spring, the book shows a leaf’s many purposes in four-word, rhyming couplets.” — Diana Star Helmer, author of The Cat Who Came for Tacos


Award winners will be announced at the 25th Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday, April 13, 2013 at the Hilton Minneapolis. An author meet-and-greet and book signing reception precedes the awards ceremony, and the Epilogue after-party, sponsored by Tech Logic, includes complimentary champagne, desserts, and live music. Tickets on sale now. Click here for more information.

Have you read A Leaf Can Be… — for yourself or to a child in your life? What are your thoughts? We welcome your comments!

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Posted in Children's Literature
4 comments on “Day 29: A leaf can be many things
  1. Sharalyn Edgeberg says:

    Lovely book. Lovely words! Lovely illustrations! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Ann Treacy says:

    A simple and beautiful book. Great idea, text and art. Wow! Ann Treacy

  3. A gorgeous book – both the text and illustrations. Deceptively simple, it can be enjoyed at so many different levels. What a gem!

  4. Laura, A LEAF CAN BE…delights in its thoughtful, brilliant simplicity. Thanks for giving me a new, more imaginative perspective of the gifts we have in nature.

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