I haven’t written a book review in quite some time but today I’ve got an absolute beaut of a book to share with you - Sandra Dieckmann’s debut picture book Leaf. Sandra has been sharing the occasional teaser on her social media for a while that she was working on her first book written and illustrated so my excitement has been building for quite some time. Earlier in the year, when she revealed that it would be published by my favourite children’s book publisher Flying Eye Books, I became even more confident that we were in for a literary treat and it has not disappointed!
Telling the story of a polar bear who washes up on the edges of a wild forest and struggles to fit in with it’s inhabitants, the heartwarming tale is all about helping outsiders. Leaf, the book’s protagonist, is excluded by everyone in the woods as he looks different from what they think is normal and so takes drastic action to try and get back home. I won't ruin the brilliantly inventive plot but it is safe to say all comes good and that Leaf delivers a suitably uplifting ending. It is always important for children’s books to leave readers with a hearty moral but with this one it feels even more vital and relevant. It’s safe to say the world isn't the most friendly or welcoming place at the moment so instilling the idea of helping outsiders instead of discriminating against them in the next generation from an early age sounds like a good idea to me.
As you would expect from Sandra - who for the record is one of my favourite ever illustrators and I can’t believe I haven’t dedicated an entire blog post to before - the visuals are equally inspiring! I own several Sandra Dieckmann prints, each of which grants a glimpse into a world far more beautiful and full of magic than our own and with the book you get to explore this land in much more detail. It’s cast of charming (if a little small-minded) characters are each captured in intense detail and surrounded painterly, pattern-filled foliage and seas of endlessly textured water. Juxtapose this with minimal handwritten text and leafy design details and you have an addictively detailed and utterly intoxicating book set in world you will never be ready to leave.
Because I never feature anything on this blog that I am secretly not that keen on, I sometimes find it hard to express when something is particularly excellent. So just to be clear - this book is brilliant! It has heart, style, substance and a whole herd of woodland animals - everything you need for my perfect picturebook! I can only hope that this is the first of many collaborations between Sandra and Flying Eye Books and as I’m already pining for another leafy adventure!
You can order a copy of Sandra Dieckmann's Leaf here