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The Eric Carle Museum
of Picture Book Art
  • 125 West Bay Road
  • Amherst, MA 01002

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  • Wednesday-Friday10 am-3 pm
  • Saturday 10am – 4 pm
  • Sunday 12 pm - 4 pm

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Picture Books We Love

Hooray for Spring! 5 Picture Books to Celebrate the Season

Even though I can still see bits of stubborn snow hiding out in the shadows, I know that spring is here! Crocuses are already blooming and daffodils and tulips are not too far behind. The days have been clear, bright and sunny, even if they've been deceptively cold. So while we wait for the temperatures to rise and the sun to warm our gardens and bring us green again, here are a few favorite picture books to welcome back spring.

 

The Happy Day by Ruth Krauss, illustrated by Marc Simont (HarperCollins, 1949) The animals spend the winter asleep in their respective homes - squirrels in the trees, bears in their dens. But despite the still falling snow, a gentle far-away scent of spring awakes the animals and sends them racing and sniffing through the forest until they find the first flower of spring coming up through the snow. Ruth Krauss (author of The Carrot Seed and so many more of my favorite books) has a gift for powerful simplicity. Marc Simont's black-and-white illustrations, perfect for capturing the stark bleariness of a long winter, are juxtaposed by the brightness of a yellow flower beaming out of the monochromatic palette on the last page. This Caldecott Honor book is spring to me.

The Boy Who Didn't Believe in Spring by Lucille Clifton, illustrated by Brinton Turkle (Penguin, 1973) Poet Lucille Clifton, author of the Everett Anderson series of picture books, was one of the early authors that brought the African American experience into books for children in the late 60s and early 70s. While this book may in some ways feel dated due to the clothing or the slang language, its story truly stands the test of time. In this book, King Shabazz doesn't believe in spring because in his immediate urban surroundings, spring is not obvious. His teacher and mother try to explain signs of spring such as birds hatching and crops coming up, but King Shabazz just doesn't believe it. From my first reading of this book I instantly fell in love with this child who is so sure of himself and doesn't take anything for granted just because an adult says so. He has to see spring from himself to believe in it, so with his friend Tony Polito, he goes out to search for spring. While there's no spring on the concrete playground or at the neighborhood store, King eventually looks in places he doesn't usually explore and he and Tony finally find what they're looking for. "Man, it's spring."

Spring is Here by Taro Gomi (Chronicle Books, 1989) Spring is a time of new growth. Spring is Here pairs colorful, minimalist watercolors with a simple engaging text, perfect for babies and toddlers, as it cycles through the year. Gomi masterfully incorporates foreground and background (watch as the spots on the cow become the soil on the ground) with every page turn, as the land and the characters change with the passage of time, throughout the four seasons. Taro Gomi's books are all so wonderful at focusing on the everyday world of the child and this bright springtime book is definitely one to grow with.

 

Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit by Il Sung Na (Alfred A. Knopf, 2010) By the creator of A Book of Sleep, this book is another display of wonderful illustration with colorful handmade papers, digitally collages together to create the sweetest animals in colorful prints and textures. How do a variety of animals spend the winter? Do they grow thick coats or migrate to warmer climates? With simple text, Il Sung Na shows how each animal family makes it through a snowy winter, rewarded with the cheery promise of a bright spring ahead.

Forever Friends by Carin Berger (Greenwillow Books, 2010) This story of sweet friendship between a little brown bunny and blue bird is illustrated in the most wonderful mixed media collage. Berger captures the color of spring perfectly with papers in shades of yellow and lime that mirror the electric green of new grass and budding leaves. This special woodland friendship starts in the spring and lasts all year, despite being physically apart during the snowy winter. A nice reminder of life's constants like friendship and the cycle of the seasons.

What are your favorite books to read about spring?

by Eliza Brown

This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 30th, 2011 at 7:49 am and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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