it’s been a c-c-cold winter…a list of five books looking forward to Spring!

I am a winter enthusiast. Yes. But it has been a tad cold this year in Minnesota, and ever-so icy, and wonderfully snowy…and now we are all dreaming of Spring. It is not here yet, but we can Anticipate!

Here’s a spring shower of books to help us do that:

spring is here cover image hillenbrandSpring is Here, written and illustrated by Will Hillenbrand
published in 2011 by Holiday House

Adorable Mole has awakened, and with a sniffle-snuffle he knows: Spring has arrived! Yippee!

Mole wants to dance in the fresh grass and pick daffodils with his friend, Bear. But…kite day cover image hillenbrand

…Bear is sound asleep. He snores on and on. What can Mole possibly do to wake him up and  share the joy of Springtime?

Charming story with such warm, happy pictures, for reading again and again with kids barely-two and up. Mole and Bear’s adventures continue in Kite Day, which is just as sweet and springlike.

frog song cover imageFrog Song, by Brenda Z. Guiberson, illustrated by Gennady Spirin
published in 2013 by Henry Holt and Company

The music of frogs is a cheerful, springtime sound. I love hearing them in the ponds near our house.

But do you have any notion of the amazing variety of frogs and songs there are around the world? This gorgeous book spotlights 11 frogs, from Canada to Australia, from the brilliant frog song illustration gennady spirinStrawberry Poison Dart Frog to the whimsically-named Scarlet-sided Pobblebonk.

Just a few descriptive lines describe the unique habits of each of these wonders, making this an ideal book for ages 4 or 5 and up.

Gennady Spirin is an astonishing artist, and he has completely outdone himself with these stunning paintings. Can a frog be ravishing? Spirin has made them so. It’s one of the most beautiful books you’ll see.

Brief cameos of each frog with additional facts about their range and size are included in the end pages, plus a short note about the dangers frogs face from environmental degradation and a listing of websites. Spectacular.

anytime mapleson and the hungry bears cover imageAnytime Mapleson and the Hungry Bears, by Mordicai Gerstein, illustrated by Susan Yard Harris
published 1990 by Harper & Row

The Maplesons live in snowy New England where March arrives amid snowbanks and cold wind.

The calendar says it’s maple sugaring time, so off  troops the family to prepare the sugar bush  — Dinnertime, Lunchtime, anytime mapleson and the hungry bears illus. susan yard harris 001Breakfastime, and Anytime. (Their names derive from when they like to eat pancakes. Anytime likes ’em all the time.)

But this year, warm days are slow to come, and the sap refuses to rise, until one April morning. Anytime wakes and smells spring in the air, so he piles on his outdoor clothes and heads to the sugar bush. “Watch out for bears!” his family calls after him. But Anytime is already out of hearing.

This book was a well-worn favorite of ours when my kids were small. Maple syruping, outwitting bears, and eating stacks and stacks of pancakes make a jolly tale for ages 5 and up.

the secret pool cover imageThe Secret Pool, by Kimberly Ridley, illustrated by Rebekah Raye
published in 2013 by Tilbury House Publishers

“A shimmer. A twinkling. Do you have any inkling of what I am?”

“I’m a watery jewel called a vernal pool.”

This lovely book introduces us to vernal pools — pools which fill each spring with rainwater or snowmelt.

Wood frogs, salamanders, fairy shrimp andthe secret pool ridley and raye 001 others depend on these temporary pools. Ridley takes us on a nature hike through the woods to spy on these interesting creatures and watch what happens to them as the pool and the seasons change. Her love for this dappled world  is crystal clear.

You can read just the short, lyrical bits to 4 or 5 year olds, or you can add the longer explanations for mid-elementary and up, to get a full, fascinating nature lesson.

Rebekah Raye’s lush watercolors are so beautiful, full of quiet, woodland elegance, I could just stare and stare at these pages. A rich, handsome offering to us, from Tilbury Press in Maine.

miss maple's seeds cover imageMiss Maple’s Seeds, written and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
published in 2013 by Nancy Paulsen Books

Miss Maple is a wee little lady, a sort of garden fairy, with a nurturing heart for orphan seeds. Teensy raspberry seeds and paper-winged maple seeds, flat pumpkin seeds and knobbly acorns — they all find tender loving care from Miss Maple.

She tends them for a year, teaching them of miss maple's seeds illustration eliza wheelerthe muddy or grassy places they’ll grow, the windy or watery transport they’ll use when spring arrives and it’s time to take root in the beautiful, wide world.

The enchanting, imaginative story is brought to life with Wheeler’s soft, glowing ink and watercolor illustrations. She has created a small, exquisite world. Miss Maple’s charming tree-burrow,  the lemon-wash sunlight, splishy rains, and rosy mornings of her woodsy, blossomy world, are captivating. Ages 3 and up.