Leaf by Sandra Dieckmann

Leaf by Sandra Dieckmann was unknown to me until I saw it on CLPE’s Power of Reading list. The illustration on the front cover was so alluring that I just had to have it – and I wasn’t disappointed. 

The story is about a polar bear that finds himself on an island and isolated from the other animals. As the other animals don’t know what he is, they are wary of him and rumours begin to spread. The polar bear begins to gather leaves, which we later find out he uses to make wings to fly home to his family. The other animals find his behaviour very strange as they watch from afar. They call him ‘Leaf’ not just because he has a penchant for leaves but because they want him to leave. I was amazed at how quickly the children in my class (Year 1) understood the deeper meaning here. They genuinely looked hurt and it led to deep conversations about friendship, compassion and appreciating differences. 

The illustrations are exquisite and they lend themselves to deep discussions and fantastic artwork in the classroom. We used this book as a springboard for learning about polar bears and habitats and linked the leaf part to identifying leaves from different trees. We sketched them and then added them to our own polar bears. This book has become one of my favourites and is prominently displayed in the book corner. 

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