Book Spotlight: Leaf by Stephen Michael King

Leaf is such a warm and inviting story, and you get that sense by looking at the front cover which is a beautiful pastel green: the colour of nature, life, calmness and growth.

Stephen Michael King’s illustrations are simple, yet meaningful sketches. This book is not completely wordless. King has used onomatopoeias (sound effects) to add interest to his illustrations. I think children will be amused by his choice of words which include  ‘snippity snip’, ‘flapper flap’, ‘glurg’, ‘boing’ and ‘sploosh’.

At the beginning of the story we meet a young, rambunctious, happy boy who is full of life except that he is not very keen for his mum to cut his hair.

He runs away from his mother to the garden where he frolics and plays with his dog. It is here that a bird drops a seed into his hair- ‘Does she mistake his hair for a nest?’ a reader might ask. A seedling sprouts from his head. It is nurtured with care, sunshine and water by the boy, and sparks his imagination.

After a dream that his seedling is pruned he wakes and starts the next day in much the same manner as the previous day. His enthusiasm comes to a halt when he sees his mum with a pair of scissors in her hand. This time he doesn’t get away and she trims his hair, seedling and all.

Although broken and disheartened, the boy does not lose hope. He replants the seedling into the ground and nurtures it until it is a mature tree where he can bring his own children in years to come.

The end of the book sees a bird drop a seed into the head of his dog, and a seedling sprouts…..

It is probably important to note that Leaf is made up of 64 pages, much longer than an average picture book. When reading with a child, this book could easily be enjoyed over a number of sessions.

As with many wordless books, the story is open to interpretation and has many layers. This story is about the growth of plant life but it’s also an analogy for imagination and ideas. Living species and imagination both grow with ideas, care, love and enthusiasm, and there will be hurdles which can be overcome.

You might also be interested in other Wordless Picture Books


Buy online from The Nile

Stephen Michael King


Format: Paperback

Publisher: Scholastic Australia, April 2010

RRP: $16.99 (aud)

Other Reviews of this book: Kids’ Book Review

Book Spotlight: Leaf by Stephen Michael King


  1. “From little things, big things grow…”

    Love this book – the illustrationsm, the story, the humour and the symmetry of it all :)

  2. From little things, big things grow. But they need nurturing.

  3. Growing upwards and outwards, spouted a wonderful thing, I was flying and dancing in shiny bird wings!

  4. This book looks beautiful. Here’s my caption: Fertile young minds can sprout wondrous things.

  5. Growing… my own time :)

  6. Casey said: On May 17, 2011

    This looks like such a beautiful book to share. My one year old will love the sounds and my three year old can help explore the story behind the pictures. Perfect.
    I think the caption should be a thought bubble – “I know! If she cuts my hair, I will grow a garden for hair, then when she cuts the plants they will grow back stronger than before!”

  7. Amanda said: On May 18, 2011

    This is the seed that opened my imagination….

  8. “welcome to my world …”

  9. “…and so it begins…”

    This book sounds lovely, my 3 year old would enjoy it and it could be used in so many classroom activities when I start teaching!

  10. Louise said: On May 19, 2011

    “Watch me grow”

  11. Bianca said: On May 23, 2011

    This looks like a super cute book. I just discovered Stephen Michael King and love his book “You”.

    My caption: “Good things grow from within you”

  12. “Today I can do anything … “

  13. “Hair today, gone tomorrow” :)

  14. Grow, mow, grow……….

  15. His little plant looks as at home perched on his scruffy head, as he does perched in his lovely garden.

  16. Ideas can be planted anywhere. All they need is care and attention.

  17. LIttle people have wonderful ideas that need to be nurtured like a seed which grows into beautiful flower.

  18. Shauna said: On May 29, 2011

    Hey, what’s everyone staring at?

  19. The nurturing of little seeds help the growth of big imaginations…..

  20. Nic said: On May 30, 2011

    My girls and I love Stephen Michael King’s books, his illustrations are amazing!

    ….Catch me if you can!….

  21. This book reminds me of the life we have with my boy with Aspergers. I think a perfect caption would be.

    An insight of the children for our future.

  22. plant the seed of imagination

  23. My caption: “Better that a bird drop a seed on my head than a poo!”

  24. I’ve finally had a chance to have a look at this lovely, lovely book! ‘Leaf’ is so sweet, and I found it quite humorous and a little moving.

    The little boy is so likeable, and reminds me so much of lots of boys I’ve known over the years, earthy and cheeky.

    My three year old has now nicked off with the book, put it in his wagon and wont let me read it any more (it’s his, apparently) but before that we had quite a bit of fun rebuilding the last couple of pages with a toy tree, a stuffed puppy dog, and a Woody doll. Lots of fun to be had!

    Thanks for mentioning this book, I’m so pleased to have come across it.

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