A leaf called Greaf by Kelly Canby

cover image

A most unusual and tempting book about the friendship between a bear and a leaf will intrigue younger readers as they recognise the bear’s loneliness and wish for a friend.  He is alone in the forest, his siblings all gone. A leaf falls onto Bear’s head and Bear, catching the leaf and hugging it to himself, calls the leaf Greaf as he is a green leaf. But the puns on the leaf are becomes obvious later in the story.

They do things together, Bear carrying Greaf wherever he goes. They walk through the woods and forests, up and down hills, across rivers and lakes. When the wind begins to blow more strongly, Bear clutches Greaf tightly to his chest. He takes Greaf to his home when the rain comes down, and they sit together in the still and the dark. Bear cannot think of a time without Greaf until one day he notices that the leaf is changing. Greaf is no longer green and soft, but brown and brittle.

When the wind hows through the cave, Greaf is torn to pieces and these pieces swirl around Bear. And then disappear. 

But then Bear sits again under the huge tree, seemingly not quite as large as it was before, and he recalls his friend Greaf, a friend forever in his heart.

A story about loneliness and friendship, and about grief and loss as Bear finds a friend in an unexpected place and when that friend is gone, has the memory of him forever in his heart.

This book introduces younger children to the concept of grief, as the season changes in the story, initiating the change in Greaf and his eventual demise. They will empathise with the story of Bear and Greaf, and recognise that although Greaf has gone, he is remembered.

The illustrations are amazing, swirls of colour cross each page giving impressions of forest and hills, of the cold wind and warmth of the sun. Pages will provoke interest in readers as they recognise different ways of representing the forests, the seasons, the flora and fauna around the bear. And the intriguing way in which Canby draws the bear on each page will promote thought and lots of discussion.

And children will look for things amongst the wonderful washy greens of the endpapers.

Published across the globe, Kelly Canby was born in London, but moved to Australia at the age of three, when she began using pencils and crayons, eventually developing her original and quirky style. She is the author illustrator of Timeless, Rodney, The hole story and Littlelight, all wonderfully unusual and fascinatingly illustrated books.

Find out more at https://kellycanby.com/

Themes: Grief, Loneliness, Friendship, Memory.

Fran Knight