Tag: spring

When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes

When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes

When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes, illustrated by Laura Dronzek (InfoSoup)

So I admit that I waited for spring to actually come to Wisconsin before I reviewed this and that means that even now I am being optimistic that it has finally arrived even though it was in the 30s here overnight. But even if you are almost headed into summer, this is a great book to share in early, mid and late spring. Written at a level just right for toddlers, this book shares the transformation that spring bring us. Bare trees become covered in blossoms and leaves. Snowmen disappear. Puddles appear. Grass turns from brown to green (with flowers). Gardens grow and soon there is green everywhere, breezes, robins and worms.

Henkes’ writing is made to share aloud with small children. His verse doesn’t rhyme but it has a great natural rhythm to it that makes the book almost sing. The joy here is in the exploration of the changing season, one that brings a certain beauty with it, a freshness. Henkes captures the turning of the season, the aspects of early spring all the way through to almost-summer and he does it in a way that shows small children what they can see and experience themselves.

Dronzek’s illustrations are big and bright and simple. She moves from the lighter colors of early spring through to the bold robustness of near summer. The images change too, moving from small images surrounded by white to double-page spreads that run right to the edge of the pages and seem to spill over with the bounty of late spring.

A gorgeous book for the smallest of children, this is a triumphant toddler look at spring. Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from copy received from HarperCollins Publishers.


Abracadabra, It’s Spring by Anne Sibley O’Brien

Abracadabra Its Spring by Anne Sibley OBrien

Abracadabra, It’s Spring by Anne Sibley O’Brien, illustrated by Susan Gal (InfoSoup)

Through a series of large flaps, this picture book demonstrates the transformation from late winter into spring. From the very first page, snow melts away to show bare ground as rabbits watch in wonder. Green shoots become crocuses. Bare branches burst into soft pussy willows. Birds fly, nests are built, eggs hatch. Even children change their clothes and head outside into the warm day. This is a magical way to introduce small children to the wonder of seasonal change.

The gatefold flaps in this book are sturdily built and are the size of the full page, thus less likely to rip and tear. The entire book focuses on magical words, each one leading to opening the flap and revealing an amazing transformation as spring arrives. The effect works really well with the poetic wording of the book also adding to the wonder on the page. The rhyming is done well and the vocabulary while child friendly will also allow some growth for small children.

The illustrations by Gal have a gorgeous natural feel to them. They were done with charcoal and digital collage which keeps the roughness of the paper and charcoal and adds the feeling of watercolor or other paints. It’s very effective and captures the ethereal nature of spring as it passes.

Bright and engaging, this picture book will be a great pick for springtime story times. Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Finding Spring by Carin Berger

finding spring

Finding Spring by Carin Berger

Maurice is a little bear cub who can’t stop thinking about spring. It may be time for him to go to sleep in the warm cave with his mother, but he stays awake and sneaks out of the cave to search for signs of spring. As he heads through the forest, he meets other animals all busily preparing for the winter. They don’t have time to talk to him for long but find time to warn him that spring’s arrival will take some time. Maurice smells something new on the air and runs towards it, thinking it is spring. When a snowflake falls, he is sure it is spring arriving so he scoops up some snow to keep spring with him and heads back to his mother to sleep. When he awakes in the warmer weather though, his piece of spring has disappeared. But in the end, Maurice manages to find spring all around him.

This picture book has a very simple story with elements that children will relate to. From not wanting to go to bed to the beauty of nature, this book celebrates it all. It is a book of curiosity, adventures and making your own discoveries along the way.

What makes this book exceptional are the illustrations. Berger works in cut paper and collage, creating dioramas that have dimension and shadows. The cut paper contains fragments of words and lovely textures. I particularly love the reverse side of a letter on gray paper being the flowing water in a stream. Throughout the book there are touches like this that work beautifully visually and are artistically inspired.

A lovely new springtime read, this picture book celebrates the seasons of winter and spring side by side. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Greenwillow Books.

Review: I Hatched! by Jill Esbaum

i hatched

I Hatched! by Jill Esbaum, illustrated by Jen Corace

An exuberant chick hatches from an egg and merrily dashes through his first day in this spring picture book.  The chick quickly discovers that it has long legs and can really run.  While running, he discovers a frog, water, worms and many other things in his environment.  He learns to sing as well as poop as his day continues.  In the evening after returning to the nest, he gets a surprise when another egg cracks open.  Now he can be the expert and show his new sister everything!  Maybe.

This book is pure bottled joy.  The little chick is wildly positive and vivacious.  He captures the delight of babies in their world and invites readers to see things with fresh eyes as well.  Esbaum makes it clear that he is a killdeer with his long legs, his song and the way he acts.  It’s a pleasure to see a book about a bird in a nest on the ground, running fast that is not about learning to fly but more about being an individual and safely learning new things.

Corace’s illustrations reflect the same cheery delight.  They celebrate the little bird’s markings, the challenge of hatching from an egg, and happily show all that he explores in his first day.  They have a lightness and humor about them too.

Toddlers will enjoy this book that mirrors their own enthusiasm.  Perfect for spring story times with little ones.  Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from copy received from Dial.

Review: Rain! by Linda Ashman


Rain! by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Christian Robinson

The perfect book to lift your spirits on a soggy spring day!  When an older man wakes up and sees the rain, he is not happy.  But when a little boy looks out at the same rain, he’s delighted.  The older man grumbles through his preparations to go outside, while the little boy puts on his green boots, green coat and frog hat still happy with the gloomy weather.  The old man grumbles about puddles, while you can see the joy of the child.  They end up in the same café, the old man still grumpy with his day and the young boy happy with cocoa and cookies.  When the two bump into each other, it seems like the grumpiness rubs off on the little boy.  But then he notices that the older man left his hat behind, and with a little joke and a shared cookie, a day is brightened.

Ashman has written this book very simply, just in snatches of dialogue.  Despite the simplicity, the mood of each character is clear in their words.  It is made even more clear by the cut-paper illustrations that display each person’s mood with just a few lines.  Readers will notice that the pages with the older man have others with grumpy faces while the pages with the the child have others with smiles. 

A book that is sure to have readers jumping merrily in puddles and dancing in the rain, this is an inspiration to look on the bright side of things and share your happiness.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: That’s Not a Daffodil by Elizabeth Honey

thats not a daffodil

That’s Not a Daffodil by Elizabeth Honey

When Tom’s neighbor gave him something that looked like an onion and said it was a daffodil, Tom was very skeptical.  Mr. Yilmaz told him to plant it to find out.  So they planted it in a large pot and Tom waited, and waited, and waited with nothing happening at all.  When Mr. Yilmaz asked how the daffodil was doing, Tom answered that it was not a daffodil, it was a desert.  So the two watered the pot.  Later, Mr. Yilmaz asked again and Tom said that the small green point sticking out of the dirt was a green beak, not a daffodil.  The beak slowly began to open.  Soon the daffodil looked more like a hand, hair, and even a rocket!  It even survived being toppled over by a dog.  Until finally, Tom gets to show Mr. Yilmaz exactly what that onion turned into.

Not only does this book perfectly capture the wonder of gardening with children with the impossibly long wait for results, but it also offers a beautiful zip of creativity along with it.  As Tom learns about patience with his daffodil, he also incorporates it into his playing.  The writing is simple and straight forward, yet has a sense of playfulness too.

Honey’s illustrations appear to be a mix of watercolor and pastels that have a homey warmth.  They also have a great texture that works well for the rough ground, dirt in the pot, and sweater knit.  At the same time, the watercolor smoothness plays against that. 

A sweet book about patience, gardening and creativity, this book would make a great addition to springtime story times.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano

and then its spring

And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Erin E. Stead

This enchanting book starts with the brown of late winter.  It’s the brown that you have to plant seeds into in the hopes of green coming soon.  But then you have to wait for rain, hope that the birds didn’t eat the seeds, realize that the bears may have stomped too close to the seeds because they can’t read signs, and then you have to wait some more.  It stays brown, but even the brown starts to change and seem more hopeful and humming.  Then you wait some more, and then one day, if you are patient and keep caring for your newly planted seeds, you wake up to green!

Oh how I love this book!  In her poetic prose, Fogliano captures the patience of gardening, the drudgery of late winter, and the hope that must be invested in order to see seeds spring to life.  I had expected the birds eating the seeds, but the stomping bears led me to realize that this was more playful a book than I had originally expected, something I love to have happen in the middle of a picture book!  

Add to this the illustrations of Caldecott winner Stead and you have such a winning book.  Her art has a delicacy that is perfect for the whispers of early spring.  The boy in the story is thin, wear glasses, and by the time spring finally comes has created quite a garden with birdfeeders, signs, and plenty of lumps of dirt.  By far my favorite part comes at the end, where the garden does not burst into flowers but remains weedy and lumpy, but green.  Perfection.

Doing a spring story time soon?  Get your hands on this book!  Ideal for classes planting a garden or all of us longing for the green to return.  Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.