The Gold Leaf by Kirsten Hall
From Publishers Weekly:
In a graceful parable with environmentalist echoes, Hall (The Jacket) and Forsythe (Please, Open This Book!) take readers to a forest where spring has returned in a whirl of animal activity and a riot of color: “Jungle green, laurel green, moss green, mint green, pine green, avocado green, and, of course, sap green.” Those hues are forgotten when the animals discover a golden leaf in a tree; shiny gold detailing on the page underlines the idea that this leaf is truly special—something King Midas could have created, not simply a vivid holdover from autumn. The animals scramble to possess the leaf, and as it makes its way from bird to chipmunk to mouse and so on (a deer “nibbled its edges. Even its taste was perfect”), the battered leaf disintegrates and gets scattered to the wind. Hall’s understated writing reads like poetry, and Forsythe’s graphic, even geometric, paintings have the feel of animation stills. The animals’ relief is almost palpable when the leaf returns the next spring—a gentle but firm reminder to respect the scarcity that makes a precious resource precious.