Welcome to The Book Basket, a place for sharing seasonal reads and children’s literature we’re enjoying in our home.
I am always excited to retrieve the autumn book stash, especially this gem by Cynthia Rylant.
In November by Cynthia Rylant, ilustrated by Jill Kastner
Recommended age range: 4-8
(You can buy it here, but I bet your library or local bookstore would be tickled if you checked with them first.)
In November reads like a canticle — sacred and peaceful. Rylant opens with a thoughtful personification of the earth:
In November, the earth is growing quiet. It is making its bed, a winter bed for flowers and small creatures. The bed is white and silent, and much life can hide beneath its blankets.
The text moves us forward through meadows of “sticks and bones” trees spreading their arms like dancers, through a somber air of “good-byes and well-wishes” from migrating birds, to the quiet corners of barns where cats pile up to keep warm.
Look at those kitties — aren’t the warm colors and soft edges of Jill Kastner’s illustrations a perfect match for Rylant’s prose?
Only in the final third of the text does the author bring humans into the story, luring us in with the smell of November foods:
It is an orange smell. A squash and pumpkin smell. It tastes like cinnamon and can fill up a house in the morning, can pull everyone from bed in a fog. Food is better in November than any other time of the year.
She invites us to the Thanksgiving table:
In November, people are good to each other. They carry pies to each other’s homes and talk by crackling woodstoves, sipping mellow cider.
They travel very far on a special November day just to share a meal with one another and to give thanks for their many blessings — for the food on their tables and the babies in their arms.
That last phrase wets my mama-eyes every time.
Last, after filling our bellies and stirring fond memories, Rylant pulls the covers to our chins and wishes us a peaceful sleep.
In November, at winter’s gate, the stars are brittle. The sun is a sometime friend. And the world has tucked her children in, with a kiss on their heads, till spring.
Enjoy the rhythmic, satisfying prose of In November with the little ones in your life this autumn!
Does your family have a favorite fall book? Share it in the comments!
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