Little Leaf
by Paul Sauvola

"For great is the happiness when a loved one is returned home."

When Stoogie the bird rescues Little Leaf from a rushing stream of water during a storm, they become fast friends united in a close call with disaster. When the weather clears, the two set off together and join a group of animal friends. This group enjoys meals and games together, bonding over a cozy campfire and the loving company of friends. But when Chompers, a young colt, wanders off alone and does not return, the group must set out to find him. They travel through all kinds of weather and various landscapes, meeting people along the way while looking for their lost friend.

Themes of friendship and dogged determination, as well as a strong journey motif, are well-developed in this book for independent, elementary school readers. Read as an allegory, older readers might also enjoy this tale of inclusivity and community support. A diverse set of charming characters populate Sauvola’s search-and-rescue story, including Hip-Hop, the hippopotamus, who steals a few scenes from the main bunch even though he shows up near the end of the book. Hip-Hop is a minor character who could star in his own book with his love for music and dancing along with his wise guidance to all the animals.

At times, the storyline and characters may seem more suitable for a picture book, but Sauvola may possibly have been inspired by other animal heroes like Babe, Charlotte, and Wilbur whose stories are complex and are ripe for being read aloud. With a mix of tenderness and suspenseful action, the author has penned an uplifting story for young readers.

Return to USR Home