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The Very Last Leaf

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Lance Cottonwood is the best and brightest of the leaves, but even the top students on the tree have worries. Can Lance conquer his fear of falling and just let go when the time comes for his final exam, or will he let his worries take over? In this funny and encouraging picture book, best-selling author Stef Wade (A Place for Pluto) tells an engaging story and deftly addresses social and emotional struggles many kids encounter each day...feeling anxious, wanting to be perfect, facing fears, etc. These themes combined with illustrator Jennifer Davison's delightful characters and rich autumnal colors make The Very Last Leaf a perfect book for the start of a new school year, the arrival of autumn, or any period of transition in life.

32 pages, Hardcover

First published August 1, 2020

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About the author

Stef Wade

11 books34 followers
Stef is the best-selling author of A PLACE FOR PLUTO, THE VERY LAST LEAF & Q&U CALL IT QUITS and MOVING TO MARS.

A PLACE FOR PLUTO was a 2018 Barnes & Noble story time pick, 2019 TXLA 2×2 Reading List Book, 2019 UK Summer Reading Challenge book, a 2019 LITA Golden Duck Notable Picture Book, and runner-up for the 2020 Magnolia Book Award.

Her upcoming book, EVERY DAY'S A HOLIDAY, releases January 2023.

Stef is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She’s bounced all over the midwest with her college sweetheart husband and her three historically and literary named brood of boys and currently resides in the greater Milwaukee area.

Stef is represented by Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis.

For more information, visit www.stefwade.com.

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5 stars
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154 (26%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 219 reviews
Profile Image for Blaine DeSantis.
880 reviews102 followers
February 22, 2020
Thanks to NetGalley and Capstone Editions for providing me with a free copy of this book. The following is my honest opinion. This is a very good book. It is a book for young readers and one that takes them through the life cycle of a cottonwood leaf. Lance Cottonwood excels in all his leafly studies except the final one - falling to the ground at the end of the season. The book helps teach children how to overcome fear, bur the hidden message for me is to overcome the fear of death. Truly, what is falling to the ground for a leaf - it is its death and Lance Cottonwood is afraid of this. While it is never discussed, it still was a predominant theme for me in this book and certainly can be used by adults to teach a multitude of lessons (at the right time) about fear of life and death. I felt this was a marvelous book with the only drawback being the rather simplistic illustrations.
Profile Image for Briar's Reviews.
1,761 reviews496 followers
March 12, 2020
The Very Last Leaf by Stef Wade is a super cute, absolutely adorable children's read!

To start off this review, the cover alone is absolutely stunning. The soft oranges and reds to give a fall-like feeling - it's gorgeous. It screamed out to me and made me want to pick up this little book. The style felt very classic yet very modern all at the same time.

We follouw Lance Cottonwood, a little leaf, on his first day of school! He's doing great in school but he began to worry about his exams. His final exam, falling to the ground, was mortifying! Will he make it? Will he become brave? Will he be the last, little leaf? You'll have to read to find out!

This book was just the sweetest and it had a lovely, little message: Working hard, getting over fears and not giving up! Throw in the delightful pictures with soft colours, and you've got a real hit. I think kids and parents alike will adore this picture book and easily be able to find a book on it's shelf. I'd highly recommend it! I could also see educators and parents using this book for not only fears in general, but darker themes like death and losing someone. It can be seen as very dark though, if you take it the wrong way.

My favourite part of this book is the little progress report at the end for our leaf friend! It's so cute and quite amusing.

Four out of five stars!

Thank you to NetGalley and Capstone for giving me the opportunity to pick up this wonderful book!
Profile Image for Jane.
324 reviews44 followers
February 11, 2020
5 Magnificent ⭐️!!!!!!!!

This book is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

First of all I want to say how magnificent the artwork is! The colours are very crisp, on point, appealing, & pleasing! The gradient, colour combination & how the artist draw is stunning! It’s just sooo cute and I am just speechless! Wow!

The fonts are brilliant! I love how the fonts change, there are smaller ones and bigger ones with fading colours which is just superb!

The story is so adorable and unique! Lance is a great student but even though he is great, he is still bullied by his other leaf classmates. The story is so charming. I love how Lance finally got the courage to do what he has to do.

The story is the cutest I have ever read! The artworks, fonts & story is amazing! This is such a wonderful story that I would want my future children to read!

If you’re a fan of Children’s story this is definitely a must read. Children’s fiction are definitely not only for children! If you’re a fan definitely push for it!

Thank you so much to NetGalley for this ARC.
Profile Image for La Coccinelle.
2,241 reviews3,562 followers
February 4, 2020
I... really don't know what to make of this.

The text is solid. The illustrations are appealing. The facts about leaves that are woven into the plot and included in Lance's report card at the end are interesting.

But this story is just weird. Basically, it's about a leaf being encouraged to essentially commit suicide by his teacher and peers. I mean, when a leaf falls from a tree, it dies. Lance had every right to be scared! It just seemed very odd that the teacher (who was the tree he was attached to) was encouraging him to end his life, especially since the book completely glosses over that part of a leaf's life cycle.

I guess this would be okay for kids who aren't going to pick up on the morbid aspects of the text. But for older readers, Mrs. Timber's tactics might seem creepy and predatory. Yes, leaves must fall. But I've seen trees with straggling leaves that manage to hang on long past all the others. Why was the teacher so obsessed with all her students getting to the ground to begin the process of decay? (Easy for her to say. She's the one who benefited from all her students' hard work.)

Thank you to NetGalley and Capstone Editions for providing a digital ARC.
Profile Image for Cam.
977 reviews2 followers
March 16, 2020
Thank you netgalley and publisher for this book to review. Cute book children’s book with really beautiful graphics. This gives a child the insight has life lessons ... that life can be challenging and hard but you can get through it.
Profile Image for Rebecca Reviews.
196 reviews23 followers
August 15, 2020
The Very Last Leaf written by Stef Wade and illustrated by Jennifer Davison is a sweet, encouraging, and simple story with bright and adorable artwork. This easy read with a great message is perfect for young to early middle-grade readers.

Little Lance Cottonwood is the best and brightest student on the tree. He excels in his classes on Budding, Pigment Changing, and Wind Resistance. However, even the most brilliant students have their fears. Will Lance be able to conquer his fear of falling and let go of the tree in time for his final exam?

This is a beautifully designed and cute tale! The simple storyline is easy-to-follow. Little Lance’s story is extremely relatable to both adult and child readers. Wade does a wonderful job of simply but clearly exploring common issues that kids encounter. The book confronts feelings of inadequacy, the fear of failure and the unknown, anxiety, and the desire to be perfect. These are heavy but familiar issues which Wade presents in an easy-to-read and fun way. Her approachable and child-friendly writing style deftly avoids being boring or preachy.

However, I would have liked more of Lance’s interactions with his teacher as well as his fellow classmates. I wish the narrative showed how the teacher dealt with the teasing Lance received from his classmates.

I like the educational tree facts that are seamlessly included in the story. I also love how well the typography changes to suit the narrative. Lance’s report card at the end is also a lovely touch!
Davison’s charming and detailed illustrations are just stunning! I would buy this book just for the gorgeous full-colour artwork alone! Each page beautifully features the rich and vibrant colours of fall. I also really like the characters’ adorable expressions. I especially love Lance’s cheerful little face—who knew a leaf could be so cute and expressive?

The Very Last Leaf is a wonderful fall read with an important and positive message. I can’t wait to see more lovely work from this author and illustrator!

Thank you to NetGalley and Capstone for this book in exchange for an honest review.

🍂 🍂 🍂 🍂 out of 5 leaf piles!
Profile Image for Lyndie.
277 reviews56 followers
August 8, 2020
Super cute and easy read that teaches about how the leaves on trees change through the seasons. The story is fun because its told from one young leafs perspective. He grows and changes but come Fall he is scared to take the plunge off his tree. Lance will be the last to leave his tree.

The book isnt just cute its educational. It talks about the different types of trees. Lance cottonwood comes from a deciduous tree but the book also has trees like the evergreen who dont loose their leaves. The book also contains a small glossary at the end with tree terms.

This book also has a few important life lessons for young readers. Its okay to be scared and its okay to last. Be last isnt a failure. With love and support from family and friends we too can overcome our fears and hardships.

Lastly the illustrations in this book are super cute. Love all the cute little faces on the leaves. The colors are also beautiful and make you feel the seasons. This is a great little book to incorporate into learning about the seasons and the impact they have on trees.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Cheri.
1,684 reviews2,238 followers
July 27, 2020

From his first day of school in the spring, Lance Cottonwood was the best and brightest student.

Lance was a leaf, he excelled in Budding, Wind Resistance, Photosynthesis and passed Pigment Changing with flying colors.

As the final test was coming up – one that all leaves eventually must do, he hesitated. All the other leaves were excited to leave the tree, but he hesitated, watching the other leaves fall to the ground. He wanted to be like his neighbor, Doug Fir, who was an evergreen. Lance was a Cottonwood, and so everyone expected him to fall like all those before him had fallen.

Then his teacher tells him that it’s okay to be afraid, and that she was there to help him, so he shares the things he’s worried about (like falling where a dog did his “business.”) And the students below cheer him on. And while he still wished he could be like Doug Fir, he knew he would never be.

There are wonderful messages in this, and the illustrations are charming and colourful, but I think this is best for very young children, who won’t be old enough to understand what happens to leaves when they … fall. The book doesn’t touch on that side of things, since the leaves that have fallen all are happily congratulating Lance once he joins them, which is where the story ends. Lance’s Progress Report follows the ending, with a gentler message:
Leaves fall from the trees in autumn to help prepare the tree for winter. followed by This was a challenge for Lance, but he did it. A note from his teacher follows, with a message of Lance’s having fears of what he doesn’t know – and how they discussed these fears until he had overcome them.

On one hand, I found this to be a lesson on overcoming your fears, that coming in last is okay, and doesn’t make you a failure. A wonderful, positive message. On the other hand, I am concerned about other allusions children might take from this.

Pub Date: 1 Aug 2020

Many thanks for the ARC provided by Capstone / Capstone Editions

#TheVeryLastLeaf #NetGalley

Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
3,930 reviews2,160 followers
February 13, 2020
Suitable for 4-5 years of age. I loved the cover and the illustration! For picture books, most of everything about them lies in the illustrations and this one didn't disappoint me at all. The art work is vivid and the right kind of colourful. The different objects stood out and the character illustration is so damn amazing! The art sequence is maintained well till the end. However, I feel the story is a bit unreasonable and somewhat disconnected considering the main character to be a leaf and the main story is about school and grading. It seems like it might confuse the kids. I felt weird reading about leaves and grading them for just going through their natural process of falling down a tree.
But I still appreciate the encouraging motivational simple dialogues.
I enjoyed a lot reading this one especially the illustrations.
Thank you #NetGalley for providing me an arc of #TheVeryLastLeaf.
Profile Image for Israel.
90 reviews19 followers
October 17, 2020
Full Review: https://joybookish.home.blog/?p=238

I received a digital ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book was adorable and had a great message. Wade definitely met her goals of providing a book for children to recognize fear and worry over being “the best.”

This book is really a hidden gem for science topics! With the book being about changing seasons and new experiences, I was pleasantly surprised to find concepts like wind resistance, photosynthesis, and pigments in leaves.

Why not five stars? While the concept of the leaf taking classes and graduating is great, I think an adult reading the book would have to stop and explain these “school concepts.” Having to give some back-story while reading a picture book is not deal breaker for me, but it is something to consider.

Overall, this picture book is amazing. I would definitely recommend for anyone with children who need some encouragement or for teachers/parents looking for a fun introduction to a lesson on plants.
Profile Image for Natalie  all_books_great_and_small .
1,975 reviews69 followers
February 16, 2020
I received an advanced reader copy of this book to read in exchange for an honest review via netgalley and the publishers.

This cute book is a great book to help teach young children about how some things in life can be a challenge or be scary or daunting to them but with courage and support they can achieve anything.
This book is also a great book to teach children about science as it has scientific words relating to trees and seasons.
A fabulous book to share with all children!
6,048 reviews65 followers
January 30, 2020
Cute illustrations in a very yellowish fall colors tone, I find them beautiful. The story is also very good with a strong message that can be really helpful to talk about fear with children. Good job!
Profile Image for Jessica Haider.
1,791 reviews241 followers
May 13, 2020
Lance Cottonwood is a leaf. He loves school and learning about things like photosynthesis. But, he is worried about his big final exam: falling from the tree. He feels a lot of anxiety about falling out of the tree and wishes he was an evergreen live his friend Doug Fir.

This picture book is a fun and educational read that will teach kids about deciduous trees. It also has a moral to not let worry and anxiety take over your life. This is a great book to read with elementary aged kids.

I received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Laura.
2,611 reviews79 followers
February 6, 2020
This is a bright and color book about death.

That's all I can figure out here. It is how leaves leave the tree in the fall, because they are deciduous, and that's what happens, and the tree, his teacher, keeps telling Lance to, well, jump, jump, jump.

I mean, I know leaves fall. That is not the point. But in this book, the leaves are a "class" and the tree is the "teacher". And the "teacher" wants the leaves to die, and fall off her.

If this isn't a book about death and dying, I'm not sure what it is. It almost made me cry.

Thanks to Netgalley for making this book avialbe for an honest review.
March 15, 2020
The Very Last Leaf by Stef Wade will be a good back-to-school book for kids. Lance Cottonwood is the brightest student in his class. He excels in everything, until it comes to exam time. You see, Lance is afraid to fall and he is afraid of failure. Luckily after speaking about his fears to his teacher, he feels much better and takes the leap! The Very Last Leaf will show kids it's okay to be scared, they don't always have to "get" things right away, and expressing their feelings can be really helpful.
Profile Image for Mimi.
367 reviews108 followers
March 29, 2020
My attention span has been shot by too much staring at a screen so of course I'm reading and adoring illustrated books for toddlers and children, let me have my fun.
Profile Image for Storywraps.
1,938 reviews25 followers
February 11, 2020
Lance Cottonwood is a very smart leaf, why he is one of the brightest in his class. He passes his tests and exams with ease... except for one... the final one!

"This test would take him from the top of his sturdy tree to the grass down below." Oh my! How scary is that?

All the other leaves can't wait to take the plunge but as they all depart Lance becomes more and more anxious and afraid to disengage because soon it will be his turn to go. He makes up excuses to delay his departure and as he waits he imagines all the scary scenarios that can possibly happen to him when he does. Poor guy. His classmates sense his apprehension and fearfulness and begin mocking him calling him names.

"I guess he's not good at everything."
"He's a sacredly leaf!"

Can Lance overcome his fright and take the downward flight like his friends so easily managed to do?

This sweet book is a perfect conversation starter to help kids open up and share fears that might be troubling them. I like the way the leaves that have succeeded in their descent all praise Lance's bravery and make him feel so happy at what he has accomplished. The book touts encouragement and hope and the fact that fears can be faced head on and conquered.

I also like the Progress Report Card at the end of the book rating Lance's performances throughout the year by his teacher. It is liberating to know that he did not receive A's on every subject and eludes to the fact that you don't have to be best at everything you tackle. The illustrations are very well done and Lance is a sweet, relatable character.

Some reviewers seem disturbed that the ending is too morbid because Lance knows that once he jumps that will be the end of him. I would rather be more optimistic and positive. Lance now will become part of some beautiful rich compost that will give life-giving nutrients to a brand new cottonwood tree. He will part of that tree and many, many more to come. His future can be very bright. I highly recommend this book.
Profile Image for Carmen (TheReadingTrashQueen).
370 reviews22 followers
February 19, 2020
A huge thanks to NetGalley and Capstone for providing me with a free eARC in return for an honest review

Let's just start off with the most obvious:

The art of this book is absolutely stunning. There is no way around it. I hate the color orange, but when it's in these tones with an autumn-y feel, I just love the warmth of it. The only thing slightly bothering me about the art is that the female leaf's nerfs seemed to be more flow-y. I'm not sure why the leaves had to have genders at all, but that's the only thing I can find fault in.

The story itself is also very cute, and teaches some very important and valuable lessons to kids about fear, anxiety, and fear of failure, of always wanting to be perfect. The problem in the execution is that leaves die when they fall from the tree, which just implicates a lot of not-so-good things, especially about the teacher, Mrs. Timber. However, in this book the fallen leaves are shown to be happy and celebrating their graduation, so perhaps that's the one scientific thing Wade has changed.

Because that's another thing: without you realizing it (or well, the kids), you are learning about the cycle of trees and their leaves. It becomes very apparent in Lance's report card, and I really like that touch! Educational in all aspects!

All in all I really like this book (and I can't stop staring at the art!) but the implications need to be known before reading this with your kid, so you can be prepared for questions!
Profile Image for Lizz  (literary_lizard).
230 reviews12 followers
February 12, 2020
I loved this children's book so much! The artwork was absolutely stunning, and the story focused on encouraging a little leaf to to get over his fears and face reality. I'll admit it was a bit strange seeing a teacher encourage a leaf to fall off a tree (since that's how leaves die?), but the moral of the story was with regards to facing your fears and finding the encouragement and confidence to succeed, which is an excellent message for children.

I also liked the different depths this book offered. At the surface level, it's a simple story with wonderful illustrations. For children who may be a bit older, they will also hear words and terms such as "photosynthesis" and "pigment changing" which will allow them to learn about these processes, and the science behind it. As a result, the book presents great opportunities to learn at different levels!

Thank you to the publisher (Capstone Editions) for providing me with a digital ARC of this book via NetGalley. The Very Last Leaf will hit shelves in August 2020.
Profile Image for Leslie.
72 reviews2 followers
February 19, 2020
Thanks to Netgalley and Capstone for the early review copy.

Lance Cottonwood is the brightest leaf in class. He's aced all of his classes, but when faced with his final exam of falling, he's too scared to take the leap. He watches his friends do it, and even though he'd rather stay on the limb, with some encouragement from his teacher and a little bit of courage, maybe he'll be able to pass his final.

This book was super cute, and super informative. Not only does it teach kids about finding themselves and learning to work through and face their fears, but there's some quality information about trees and plant life in here as well, including two types of trees and some helpful information about the life cycle of plants. There are some big words and concepts that, presented in this fun way, will help kids understand even more about the world around them.

This one's out in September, and I am looking forward to more books by Stef Wade, and those illustrated by Jennifer Davison
Profile Image for Viv.
139 reviews64 followers
April 3, 2020
I was provided an ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Very Last Leaf is a super adorable picture book about facing your next step and being afraid of the inevitable changes of the future.

We follow the story of a A-student leaf which now has to master it's last test - fall from the tree. Which, it discoveres, might be something it is not yet ready to do.

I really enjoyed this short book and the beautiful art. I think it's a great opener to get your small kids to open up to you about their fears and take away their shame of admitting that the future and changes can be pretty scary. As an adult I have a few questions about the ending and I think it's a bit too optimistic and black and white, but it still leaves (see what I am doing here) you with a smile. Even though it might be a little bittersweet for the older readers.
Profile Image for Chelsea.
62 reviews1 follower
February 25, 2020
Coming from a school librarian perspective, this book touches on so many important topics that I can easily see being incorporated into multiple school lessons. It first touches on autumn's changing leaves and sprinkles a few advanced vocabulary words, like "photosynthesis", throughout. For this reason, I think that it is better suited as a read-aloud where you can discuss the meaning of these words as you come across them. It also has a Social Emotional Learning (SEL) ties because the leaf is worried about falling and wants to stay like his friend, an evergreen, even though he is meant to fall and his friend is not. The topic of worry, comparison, and confidence are all feelings my students can relate to in school and at home; I think this is a great way to incorporate SEL into science curriculum.
Profile Image for Serena.
51 reviews
February 4, 2020
**Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**

This was a really sweet book about moving on and the challenges that can come with accepting that change is going to happen.

It was a beautifully illustrated picture book about a leaf who excels at everything but when it come time to pass his final test and leave everything he knows - he is reluctant to change and tries to think of ways to delay the inevitable.

This was a great picture books that can encourage children to think about change and how even if we try our very best, things do not stay the same forever, it is how they look at the challenge of change that makes them who they are.
Profile Image for Jennie Seaman.
588 reviews8 followers
February 11, 2020
This book was super adorable.

In this book Lance Cottonwood is at the top of his class in school. But when he gets to his final exam of letting go and falling to the ground, he can't seem to get past his fear. Can he face his fear with the help of his teacher?

I really enjoyed this book. I liked that Lance seemed like he had it all together but inside he was really scared. It teaches kids that everyone has fears that they don't necessarily show. And I loved that Lance talked his fears through with his teacher and was able to see that he could face them. Overall, this was super adorable and I will be looking for it in September to buy for my niece!

*eARC provided in exchange for an honest review*
Profile Image for Kannan.
50 reviews1 follower
February 12, 2020
The very last Leaf is a super cute picture book about a leaf who is excelling at school until one day it is his turn to fall from the tree. The illustrations and colors are attractive to the reader and the text is easy to read. However, I'm unsure about the actual syntax of the dialogue. The premise of a school for leaves and that they have to jump off the tree as their final was strange.

I'm unsure about the appeal of the actual text to primary readers whom this subject would appeal to. The illustrations are super attractive and would appeal to young readers.

The publisher generously provided me with a copy of the book upon request on NetGalley. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.
Profile Image for Elise.
131 reviews1 follower
March 6, 2020
The Very Last Leaf by Stef Wade is an adorable children's book about facing your fears and being brave. I absolutely loved this book! The illustrations are beautiful, the writing is simple and clear and the message is short but strong.

I truly feel like this book can teach children about what it means to be scared, to talk about your fears and what it means to let go. But I also feel like this could teach adults (teachers, parents, etc.) about how to talk to children about their fears, how to teach them that it's okay to be scared.

This book is an educational experience, both about things like photosynthesis and the seasons, and about how to tackle fears and perfectionism. A truly enjoyable experience, for kids and adults reading it.
Profile Image for Amit Verma.
Author 3 books8 followers
February 11, 2020
This graphic fable is about a leaf.
Leaves on tree are compared to a classroom where everyone has to do the meaningful work which their training inspires them to do.
It is about a leaf who compares himself to someone who is not like him and tries to unnaturally copy him.
This leads to inevitable failure.
Finally with guidance of techers and friends our leaf comes to face reality.
Artwork is ok, not exceptional.
Writing is good, simple, well-suited for reading by kids. Story is engaging and enjoyable.
I liked the concept and message conveyed.
Thanks netgalley and publisher for review copy.
Profile Image for Violet ♡.
262 reviews7 followers
February 26, 2020
I actually read this one to my daughters (4 & 7) both absolutely loved it. They loved little Lance and learning more in detail about the life cycle of leaves. I was worried when the more technical terms came along, but sincerely appreciated that it was soon after explained. The illustration was wonder and not too overwhelming. I'm eager to buy a copy of this book to share with my friends who teach elementary aged children. I think this book is wonder and am eager to see if there are others that make learning about scientific facts easy, cute and understandable for kids. My rating is based solely on the target audience and in my case my young childrens reaction.
Profile Image for Margarida (mbooksbycandlelight).
495 reviews18 followers
February 29, 2020
The illustrations were a bit repetitive. I wish the characters didn’t all look so similar. Even if they’re leaves from the same tree there could have been some improvement in the character design. The message felt too simplistic for the language level used. I was a bit bothered by the fact that when leaves fall, they die and yet the message seemed to e that it’s okay to “fall”. The whole death metaphor seemed strange.

I received an eArk via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Tara.
1,220 reviews
February 25, 2020
I received an arc of this title from NetGalley for an honest review. This is an excellent book about excelling and being afraid too. There's a great message for kids to learn in this bright and fun picture book.
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