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Reviewed by Rosie Malezer for Readers' Favorite
The Last Leaf is a children’s book written by William Baldwin and illustrated by Liesl Bell. On the first day of spring each year, new buds and leaves sprout on the branches of the Great Oak Tree. As the buds blossom into shiny green leaves, one bud named Crinkle has problems sprouting. With gentle encouragement, Crinkle finally sprouts, but he is small and pink instead of being large and green like the other leaves. The other leaves laugh at Crinkle and make fun of him, except for Old Gus, who is the biggest leaf on the tree. Crinkle fears the upcoming autumn after hearing that all of the leaves will fall to the ground and die. Old Gus explains to Crinkle that the leaves do not die, but are re-absorbed by the tree’s roots in the winter before sprouting once more in the spring.
As he watches all of the other leaves fall, Crinkle hangs on tightly, refusing to let go of the branch which supports him. The Great Oak Tree is impressed by Crinkle’s determination. Finally, unable to hold on any longer, Crinkle falls to the ground. The following spring, the leaves who had teased Crinkle were worried when they could not find him. Suddenly, a stunning new branch grows on the Great Oak Tree, as pink and as shiny as can be. Crinkle had evolved and was now a magnificent branch, sprouting leaves of his own. The Great Oak Tree and all of the other leaves are proud and in awe of Crinkle’s amazing transformation, strength and durability.
My mind is blown by the strong and powerful messages contained within this book. Not only does William Baldwin’s tale about a leaf that is different teach empowerment against bullies, but also shows that regardless of your differences to those around you, all of us have inner strengths which can take us to great places. The Last Leaf’s tale comes complete with stunning illustrations which are bright and bold, just like Crinkle, and carry a theme to show that in Nature, nothing ends if it is nurtured. The encouragement given to Crinkle from both the Great Oak Tree and Old Gus was all that Crinkle needed to hold on and find his inner strength. Although the story is aimed at children, I found myself smiling throughout each and every page of The Last Leaf, and recommend this book be stocked in school, home and kindergarten libraries in order to teach self-empowerment at an early age.