Full of Fall

Big treat on Picture Book Builders today! The fabulous, non-fiction queen, April Pulley Sayre, is joining us to share a few details about her upcoming book, FULL OF FALL, releasing from Beach Lane Books next month. The book also includes gorgeous photographs taken by the multi-talented April. I’ve been a fan of April’s books for years, so I’m especially excited to hear about her newest book. (I also had a great time chatting with her when our paths recently crossed at ALA in Chicago and we attempted this selfie.)

April Pulley Sayre (center), Suzanne Slade (right) & Carmela Martino (left) at Chicago ALA

Anyway, on to my questions for April about FULL OF FALL!

1. First off, congratulations on such a stunning book. The “touchable” cover is amazing. Can you share how it came to be?

Thank you. The Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster team has gone all in to produce special cover textures on these books. I’m glad you noticed! Raindrops Roll had that sparkle at just the right points, and Best In Snow had a granular snow texture on the snow. And now the leaf on the front cover of Full of Fall just looks, well, real. Art Director Lauren Rille works with production manager Elizabeth Blake-Linn, who is always on the hunt for new and exciting production elements. Elizabeth finds a way to make book dreams happen. I do not know the exact mechanics, except that the design has a second layer where all the points that will require gloss or texture must be designated.

2. What was your inspiration to write this book?

Well, I love trees and I love autumn. I’ve actually wanted to write such a book for years. So when my editor Andrea and I were brainstorming and she mentioned Fall, well . . . I planted that seed in my mind. I cannot always actually write something that is suggested. But a year later, the idea grew and the language began to pour out. (That sounds like it was easy. It was not. Ask my husband who had to put up with me stomping around for weeks, obsessing over slight changes as I drafted it over and over and cut, cut, cut this word and that.) One of the hardest parts for me was that I had to discard a lot of autumn ideas that would have overstuffed the book. Fall is such a huge transformative time in nature! Alas, if I’d put in pumpkins or squash or a hundred other beautiful fall elements, I wouldn’t have fully covered the profound changes and activities related to leaves.

3. How does being both the photographer and author of a book affect your process? Do you start with words and then set off to take a photo to match them? Is your story driven by photos you’ve taken?

Each book has its own journey. Never quite the same. Many of my ideas come from photographing things and becoming obsessed with them in that process. Oddly enough, though, a book sometimes re-develops from thoughts I’ve had, concepts I’ve tried and failed to write, years ago. The photography gives new breath to the concepts.

I had photographed Fall for years. But it still feels like that manuscript came first. When I had the language and concept right, that gave me the freedom to wander Fall and study it more through photography. Of course the manuscript changes as the pacing of the book develops, sometimes!

4. The photos in the book are amazing! Would you like to share a story or two behind some of them?

Thank you. Photographing for this book was one of the great joys of my life. The very day that Beach Lane accepted it, I drove out, awash with excitement that I had an excuse to spend even more time than usual out soaking up autumn’s beauty. I already had photos from previous years, many from autumn when I would spend time with my mom in Virginia. (The gray squirrel on the back was from her yard.) But the book fueled a great wandering in Indiana and Michigan. When I found that butterfly camouflaged just like a leaf, on a fall leaf —wow! I knew that had to be in the book. And, thanks to the Book Vine for Children inviting me to go to Connecticut to speak at a preschool event, I also was able to include some of CT in the book.

Thanks April. Can’t wait for this incredible book to release!

If you’d like to learn more about April or her books, stop by her website!

Suzanne Slade

Suzanne Slade is the author of more than 100 books. A mechanical engineer by degree, she enjoys writing about science topics and fascinating historical figures. Recent books include: SWISH! The Slam-Dunking, Alley-Ooping, High-Flying Harlem Globetrotters, A Computer Called Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Helped Put America on the Moon, The Daring Dozen, Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon, Astronaut Annie, Out of School and Into Nature: The Anna Comstock Story, Dangerous Jane, The Music in George's Head: George Gershwin Creates Rhapsody in Blue, The Inventor’s Secret, and Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks. Coming soon -- MARS IS, JUNE ALMEIDA VIRUS DETECTIVE! THE WOMAN WHO DISCOVERED THE FIRST HUMAN CORONAVIRUS, THE UNIVERSE AND YOU, and TBA titles from Calkins Creek, Peachtree, and Random House. Learn more about Suzanne and her books at: www.suzanneslade.com


  1. Fall is my favorite time of year. As a teacher, I headed back to the classroom. I chose to be married in the fall with the shades of crimson, gold, and vibrant red all around. Can’t wait to get my hands on this lovely book!

  2. I almost did a post on Best in Snow because I was so amazed by it. April does such a spectacular job of not just having pretty pictures to go with her words, but photographs that go beyond that and truly illustrate her meaning. Absolutely lovely. I’m excited to see this!

  3. Wow! What a beautiful book! Fall is my favorite time of year. It’s a time of new beginnings as much as it is a time of endings. I’ll definitely look for this gorgeous book!

  4. Can’t wait to see this! I love April’s books and they are really popular at our library.

  5. What a beautiful book to snuggle with on a crisp fall night. Congrats!

  6. The book looks lovely! Congrats! And how exciting to be able to include your own photos.

  7. Another great book from April and it features my favorite season, WOW! Thanks for sharing this, Suzanne.

  8. Nothing beats the fall. And this book looks like it captures it beautifully.

  9. Love her work. Thanks for the heads up. Can’t wait to see it.

  10. This book looks spectacular–can’t wait to read it.

  11. FULL OF FALL is not just a book . . . it’s going to be an experience!

  12. Can’t wait to experience fall from your perspective, April. If it’s as delightful as Best in Snow — and I’m betting it is — it will be golden.
    Thanks for sharing, Suzanne.

  13. Wow, you are all so encouraging to a book creator. I’m glad to know that you are loving the books. I can see we all enjoy the fall season. It’s a pleasure to hear from all of you and to celebrate books here with author Suzanne Slade!

  14. I was so blown away by the amazing photographs in Raindrops Roll. I can’t wait to see this book in person. Thanks so much for this interview, Suzanne. And it was great seeing you at ALA. I’d forgotten about our selfie. Ha ha.

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