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Story Time: The Gold Leaf

Written by Kirsten Hall and Illustrated by Matthew Forsyth

The Gold Leaf children's book cover

The New York Times have a great series of live videos on their facebook page featuring children’s book illustrators and authors creating art while chatting about their work and most recent book project. It’s a wonderful glimpse into the artists process and I found it really fascinating and inspiring.

This is where I first discovered this wonderful book The Golden Leaf, written by Kirsten Hall, the author of The Jacket, a New York Times Notable Book of 2014. This book was, in part, inspired by her grandfather who was a master guilder and worked with gold leaf to guild many of the iconic buildings in New York City including the Rockefeller Center.

The book is also beautifully illustrated by Matthew Forsythe, an extremely accomplished illustrator whose work I am loving at the moment. He also was the lead designer on Adventure Time so yeah he’s awesome.

The Gold Leaf children's book page spread

The story is set in a forest filled with animals. As spring arrives the forest bursts into new life, the animals are excited and joyous, then they notice a special gold leaf sprouting from a tree…and they all want it!

The book then follows the animals pursuit to posses this leaf as a mouse steals it from a squirrel "he scampered home to hide his treasure" but before too long the leaf is again snatched up by a deer and this continues until there is nothing left of the leaf except broken pieces on the forest floor.

The animals, sad that their precious leaf is gone, slowly return to their regular activities. As the seasons change they wonder, will there ever be another golden leaf? I wont give away the ending.

The Gold Leaf children's book artwork detail

It is a gentle depiction of the beauty of nature affected by our desire of possession which can often result in destruction. The book tells us the importance of admiring nature and sharing it with each other rather than owning it. Apart from this it is also a beautiful depiction of the changing seasons. The colour palette is radiating and changes on every page. I also adore Forsythe’s layered, textural style, with often simplified geometric silhouettes of animals. Look closely at the foliage and trees and you will often be surprised by faces peering out at you.

The Gold Leaf children's book page spread

Absolutely love this book and happy to have it in my collection. The story is poetic with, what I believe to be, an important message. The artwork is rich, exciting and fun, a recommended read for both kids and adults to enjoy!

- E

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