February 18, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Great Books To Welcome Spring

Eye-dazzling and delightful for sharing aloud, this selection of picture books, some old and some new, highlight the sights and sounds of the season, celebrate the reawakening of nature, and accentuate buoyant themes of transformation and hopefulness.

abracadbra springAbracadabra, It’s Spring! By Anne Sibley O’Brien. illus. by Susan Gal. Abrams Appleseed. 2016. Tr $14.95. 978-1-4197-1891-5.
PreS-Gr 1–In this “ta-da”-filled read-aloud treat, stunning spreads utilize razzle-dazzle phrases and gatefold pages to depict the amazing natural changes that seem to come about like magic: a patch of snow melts away before the eyes of a mother rabbit and her kits (“Hocus-pokus!/Where did it go?”); green shoots suddenly sprout into purple-pink crocuses (“Alakazam!”), and tightly curled buds unfurl into glittering green leaves (“Alizebu!”). Enchantingly rendered flora and fauna flourish as the season progresses and children toss away their boots to head outdoors and explore “every bright new thing.”

and then its springAnd Then It’s Spring. By Julie Fogliano. illus. by Erin E. Stead. Neal Porter/Roaring Brook. 2012. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781596436244.
PreS-Gr 2–Wearing cold-weather gear, a boy and his animal companions survey their brown winter-worn surroundings, plant some seeds, and eagerly await the first signs of green. Eloquent verses build excitement and anticipation, as the youngster watches and worries over his charges (maybe the seeds have been eaten by birds or stomped on by bears—possibilities humorously imagined in the exquisitely detailed woodblock-and-pencil illustrations). Finally, weeks later, “…you have green,/all around/you have/green”—and a spring scene marked by just-thawed pastel hues, newly sprouted shoots and blossoms, and a gleeful ride on a tire swing.

finding springFinding Spring. By Carin Berger. illus. by author. Greenwillow. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062250193.
PreS-Gr 2–Maurice and his mother are settling in for their winter’s sleep, but the young bear just can’t stop thinking about spring and ventures outside to search for it. When he happens upon a hilltop where crystal snowflakes dance against a steel-gray sky, he’s confident that he’s found spring, and scoops up a bit to take home. Of course, the snow melts by the time he awakens, but he soon learns the truth about the much-anticipated season when he returns to the same clearing—now adorned with a bounty of bright-hued flowers, green grass, and pink-coated trees. Berger’s charming text abounds with a sweet sense of discovery and her captivating cut-paper collages glow with warmth and wonder.

fletcherFletcher and the Springtime Blossoms. By Julia Rawlinson. illus. by Tiphanie Beeke. Greenwillow. 2009. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780061688553.
PreS-Gr 2–Bedazzled by the glories of spring, a sweet-faced fox tumbles down a hill and is greeted by an astounding sight—“snowy flakes” dancing in the breeze. He hurries off to warn his woodland friends about winter’s return, all of whom resignedly make preparations, before a trip back to the orchard reveals not a blizzard but a bounty of fluttering white petals. Bursting with just-bloomed flowers, opulent shades of green, and speckled sunshine, the soft-edged illustrations please the eye while subtlety cluing readers in about Fletcher’s misconstruction.

frogs999 Frogs Wake Up. By Ken Kimura. illus. by Yasunari Murakami. NorthSouth. 2013. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9780735841086.
PreS-Gr 1–When Mother Frog rouses her offspring to welcome spring, 998 froglets pop their heads out of the ground, soon followed by their sleepyhead big brother. Hearing more snores (“Zzz…zzz…zzz!”), they track down other still-snoozing animals before encountering one critter that just won’t come out of its hole. With a cooperative “Heave-ho,” the siblings pull out a sluggish yet hungry-looking snake (“POP!”), requiring Mother Frog to do some quick soothing. Kimura’s inviting story is told with lively language and chant-along sounds, and Murakami’s boldly delineated characters—set against white backgrounds with an occasional cherry blossom or blade of grass—keep attention focused on the action. Fresh fun for a themed storytime.

split!Split! Splat! By Amy Gibson. illus. by Steve Björkman. Scholastic. 2012. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780439587532.
PreS-Gr 1–“I sing a little rain song,/a simple song,/a plain song,/a pitter-patter-tip-tap-on-the-windowpane song.” Toe-tapping rhymes depict a smiling girl’s springtime jaunt outdoors, where she and two friends spend a satisfying day splashing through puddles (“Splishy sploshy wishy washy—/drip/drip/drop!”), stomping and sliding barefoot in mud (“oochy sploochy woochy woosh!”), and finally welcoming the sun, before returning home for a much-needed bath. The playful language and color-splashed paintings make for an effervescent read-aloud, and an inviting introduction to onomatopoeia.

spring thingsSpring Things. By Bob Raczka. illus. by Judy Stead. Albert Whitman. 2007. ebook $6.99. ISBN 9781497678606.
PreS-Gr 3–Vigorous verses, presented on sun-warmed spreads in two- or three-word phrases, acclaim the rites of spring: “Melting,/dripping,/cold’s grip slipping./Sunning, warming,/thunderstorming.” Winsome images of children playing baseball, gazing in awe at a just-opened tree bud, carefully dropping seeds into freshly turned earth, and savoring the sunshine exuberantly expand the dynamic text.

surprise in the meadowSurprise in the Meadow. By Anna Vojtech. illus. by author. Holiday House. 2016. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780823435562.
Toddler-PreS–It’s springtime, and hungry Little Chipmunk heads to the sun-warmed meadow to find the seeds he buried in the fall, but instead discovers a mysterious green shoot. As time passes, the plant continues to grow, slowly blossoming into a glorious sunflower, eventually turning brown in the fall, and dropping its seeds on a blustery afternoon, leaving the critter with a tasty surprise. Vojtech’s simple text and detailed watercolor paintings populated with adorable animals offer an elucidating introduction to the life cycle of a sunflower.

when green becomes tomatoesWhen Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons. By Julie Fogliano. illus. by Julie Morstad. Neal Porter/Roaring Brook. 2016. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781596438521; ebook $9.99. ISBN 9781626727045.
K-Gr 4–Succinct imagination-tickling poems describe the sights and sounds of the seasons, beginning and ending on March 20, when a lone bird sings from a snow-covered tree, “each tweet poking/a tiny hole/through the edge of winter/and landing carefully/balancing gently/on the tip of spring.” Elegantly illustrated with detailed paintings showing a group of children exploring their world, the dated entries articulately convey the passage of the months, express the awe-inspiring changes in nature, and chronicle the emotional reactions wrought by each time period. A lovely choice for both sharing aloud and lingering over independently.

when spring comesWhen Spring Comes. By Keven Henkes. illus. by Laura Dronzek. Greenwillow. 2016. PLB $18.89. ISBN 9780062331403; Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062331397.
PreS-Gr 2–Lyrical text and lush-hued paintings work in harmony to describe the changing seasons as trees that “look like/black sticks against the sky” blossom into frothy lime-leaf and pink-petal beauties, brown grass turns green and flower-filled, eggs hatch and seeds sprout, and children head outdoors to jump through puddles and savor “buds/and bees/and boots/and bubbles.” This engaging read-aloud resounds with sparkling alliteration, radiant springtime hues, a trio of adorable kittens, and a sense of breathtaking wonder.

Joy Fleishhacker About Joy Fleishhacker

Joy Fleishhacker is a librarian, former SLJ staffer, and freelance editor and writer who works at the Pikes Peak Library District in southern Colorado.

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