A visually stunning and poetically engaging way for young readers to celebrate the autumn harvest
"A fluttering line of autumn leaves flying across every double-page spread announces the wind's presence. Autumn Wind is a character here, inviting all the forest animals to the 'annual Windfall Ball.' The event is not just a night's entertainment, but the opportunity for the animals to gather the food they each need for the long winter ahead. As Swenson explains to adults at the end, a 'windfall' can be 'fruit or other crops blown down by the wind' or 'an unexpected gift or good fortune.' As part of the harvest season, in the northern woods of the United States, the author's home, the wind does its natural part in bringing down foods that can be eaten, or gathered and stored according to their needs, by the region's animals, some hibernating, some able to live through harsh winters, and some who migrate to southern areas. This fanciful depiction in rhyme of the invisible wind that affects many animals with its hospitality scans well. 'Then Autumn Wind began to dance— / It breezed, / it blew, / it puffed, / it pranced. / Beckoning both big and small / To join in step at the Windfall Ball.' There are plenty of animals to spot in the soft, yet vibrant mixed media illustrations that combine the use of watercolor, tempera, and colored pencils with digital retouching: rabbits, bears, raccoons, elk, and quail, among them. This satisfying book for the fall season emphasizes the interconnectivity of nature. Soothing at bedtime yet with enough substance for an autumn group storytime."—Kirkus Reviews—Journal
"Leaf invitations sweep through the forest, declaring to the animals: 'You're invited, one and all, to the annual Windfall Ball!' Even as the cooler weather approaches, 'Geese postponed their grand migration,/ Bears and bats, their hibernation.' The highly anticipated event is a windfall (Swenson defines the word as 'fruit or other crops blown down by the wind' and 'an unexpected gift or good fortune'). Fedele captures the blazing colors of the season as the flutter of crimson, yellow, and orange leaves drift throughout the pages like butterflies. In the windfall's wake, the animals—badgers, bears, raccoons, and more—eagerly gather 'cranberries, chestnuts, corn, and plums,/ Sunflowers, daisies, chrysanthemums,' for their winter dens. The bounties of autumn are on full display in this cozy story."—Publishers Weekly—Journal
"As the winds of autumn start to blow, an invitation sails on the breeze to all the animals inviting them to attend the annual Windfall Ball. Excitement mounts as the time draws near; everyone primps and preens to look their best while the wind rounds up a sumptuous feast. On party night, the woods are filled with song and dance. A windfall feast wraps up the night as the animals head to their places of winter rest. This wonderful ode to fall has a pleasant, rhyming text that reads well aloud. Its placement swoops and meanders through the illustrations like the wind. Fedele's art perfectly captures the scene of a northern woods. Her spreads are replete with the golds, browns, reds, greens, yellows, and orange, while the animals are a delightful mix of realistic and anthropomorphic. A stream of fall leaves blows through each vignette and magically ties all the scenes together. An afterword contains a definition of the term windfall and an author’s note on the animals depicted. VERDICT A poetic tribute to autumn winds and woodland animals. Great for storytime or one-on-one sharing."—School Library Journal—Journal
Jamie A. Swenson
received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University in Minnesota. Jamie is an early literacy storyteller/library associate at the Hedberg Public Library in Janesville, Wisconsin, sharing her love of books and reading with children and their families.
Chiara Fedele was born in Milan, where she attended the Brera Academy. Her illustrations have appeared in many picture books, including Yaffa and Fatima: Shalom, Salaam and The Rabbi and the Reverend: Joachim Prinz, Martin Luther King Jr., and Their Fight Against Silence. Chiara also teaches drawing and painting techniques. She lives in Pavia, Italy.