Leaf is written and illustrated by Sandra Diekmann, published by Flying Eye Books. We chose this book for March 2021 as it supports World Wildlife Day which is today 03.03.2021. Leaf was Diekmann’s debut picturebook and as Children’s Library Lady writes, promotes themes of compassion, environment, fears and loneliness. The story begins ‘when a polar bear arrives unexpectedly in the woods, the other animals fear and avoid him, suspecting him to be dangerous – and his odd habit of collecting leaves only adds to their distrust. Then one day, they watch as he attempts to fly over the water with wings made of colourful leaves… trying to get back home. Perhaps he isn’t so different after all?’ (Flying Eye Books).
Front cover: Read out title and creator’s name. Ask children how they think the polar bear came to be surrounded by leaves.
Back cover: Show crow on the back cover. Read the blurb and ask children to predict what the incredible thing is that the polar bear does.
Front endpapers: Covered in crows and leaves. Return to them at the end of the read-aloud and ask children why they think Sandra D has chosen crows here. Help children discover the many crows on the picturebook pages (the number increases by one on each page – a total of 78 crows in all)
Back endpapers: The same as the front endpapers, but with a small epilogue illustration showing the polar bear at home with his family in the arctic. A leaf crown is on his head reminding him of his adventure.
Dedication: You could read this out and explain it is referring to Sandra D’s mum who passed away when she was a teenager.
Title page: Read the title and creator’s name and comment on the leaf. You could return to this illustration after the first read-aloud and ask children why they think there is a leaf here.
In this film, I focus on the skill of ‘noticing’ and make suggest a number of ways this picturebook can help develop this skill. If you want to learn more about the role of noticing in ELT, have a look at this link: https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/noticing
Identifying the different terms used to refer to polar bear:
it, strange white creature, stranger, ghost, monster, beast and how these terms emphasise polar bear as ‘the other’.
Replicating the debate between the crows and animals to understand different perspectives and points of view.
Asking questions about polar bear to empathise and understand and creating a question wall in leaf shapes.
Nature and environmental literacy:
Investigating global warming and climate change.
Identifying leaf shapes and animals.
Finding out about different animal habitats.
Noticing details, perspectives and contrasts.
Gail & I have written a mini e-lesson for it based on Sandra’s read-aloud. So have a look at our mini picturebook e-lesson #24 – we have included connecting illustrations with sound (Step 4 and Want more?) which we hope your learners will like.