The Fall of Freddie the Leaf

The Fall of Freddie the Leaf
by Leo Buscalia, PhD

Reviewed by Judd Williams

In this children’s book, Leo Buscalia uses the lifecycle of a leaf as metaphor for human life and death, gracefully offering comfort and understanding to those who are wondering how to talk about death to their children.

He introduces the reader to Freddie, a young and curious leaf, who lives a complete life and finally dies a natural death. The seasons of a maple tree offer a parallel to our human life span.

Freddie wonders about his existence and gets advice and reassurance from an older leaf, Daniel. When Daniel lets go of the life-giving branch, he opens the way Freddie to do the same.

But Freddie holds on to life, and is the last leaf to fall after the snow has come. In the end, he experiences his own death as painless, and discovers that it is a learning experience as well.

Buscalia’s book offers the reassurance that death is a normal part of living. Although Freddie doesn’t know it, he’s going to remain a part of the life cycle of the tree through his decomposition, becoming the stuff of new life. The message of what happens after death is non-denominational, comforting, and even uplifting. The story ends on the hopeful note of spring.

This book will engage children who are observant of nature and are old enough to understand the allegory between the maple leaf and their own life. Families who explain the world to their children in terms of natural processes will love the colorful photos and this elegant example of the complete cycle of life.

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