Easter is coming, a time of eggs everywhere, those exquisite surprise packages that gladden us with thoughts of new life.
Here are two gorgeous new books and one vintage sweetheart to add to your Springtime or Eastertime collection:
P. Zonka Lays an Egg, written and illustrated by Julie Paschkis
published in 2015 by Peachtree
Look at that cover! Like an outpouring of sunshine and joy! How can you possibly resist taking a peek inside?!
There, bathed in lemony radiance, we meet three industrious hens, one sterling rooster, and P. Zonka.
P. Zonka is not keeping up with the egg-laying prowess of Maud, Dora, and Nadine which concerns them greatly. Much clucking and advice-dispensing is showered on P. Zonka, to no avail.
For she is a dreamer, that P. Zonka, lost in the wonder and beauty of her surroundings, much too distracted by the azure sky, pink cherry blossoms, and “the shining center of a dandelion” to attend to egg laying.
One day, though, she decides to give it a whirl. And oh my stars!! All the glory she’s feasted her eyes upon comes to fruition. Spectacular!
Julie Paschkis stole my heart long ago with her artwork but here she outdoes herself. An exuberance of color and the vibrant, rejoicing, folk-motif line that dances across the pages are stunning. I love the dreamy P. Zonka, whose name is derived from Ukrainian pysanka eggs. An Author’s Note tells us of an annual neighborhood egg-decorating party which inspired this book. Wouldn’t you like to attend? Or begin the tradition in your own circle?
Don’t miss this gem, for ages 2 and up.
Crinkle, Crackle, Crack: It’s Spring! by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by John Shelley
published in 2015 by Holiday House
It’s still winter as this story begins, with cold stars glittering in the night sky, and one little squirt tucked under quilts in her attic bedroom.
But what is that scruffly, crunchity, crackly sound?!
Traipse outdoors to see what is astir, and there is (and this is apparently a normal occurrence) a bear waiting. Off the two set, for “it is time.”
Everyone seems to know the time has come. The buds and the breeze, the rabbit and squirrel. All hearts are light, and yours would be, too, except those rapping, tapping, whacking, cracking sounds are getting louder and louder and louder!! What on earth can it be?!
Then Spring bursts forth in all its flowery, soaring, joyfulness…and the mystery is solved.
A charming story, with gorgeous, friendly, ink and watercolor paintings that journey from drab, puddly, late-winter, to a virtual explosion of springtime brilliance. Another one not to miss, for ages 2 and up.
Lullaby for Eggs: A Poem, by Betty Bridgman, with pictures by Elizabeth Orton Jones
published in 1954 by The MacMillan Company
While the first two books today trumpet the gladness of Spring, this tender, vintage beauty whispers of the hope…of an egg.
The text is a poem by a Minnesota author, Betty Bridgman.
She was a poet who avidly supported the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden here in Minneapolis. Her love of the fragile beauty of flowers and birds is evident in these poignant lines, and I can imagine her sitting in the rustic shelter in that garden, which has, at least in the past, had a wondrous display of birds nests and eggs.
1940s shelter at the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden
There is something about a wild bird’s egg that makes us hold our breath in wonder. The fragility. The blush of color; spray of speckles. The serenity.
Bridgman’s lullaby addresses the Earth in her “shawl of temperate air” imploring her to “smoothly roll — take care, take care, for swaying in artfully woven twigs ride hopeful eggs…”
Accompanying this poem, this request to “guard fragile things that hold our hope of song and wings” are soft, colored pencil illustrations by award-winning illustrator Elizabeth Orton Jones. So delightfully old-fashioned and quiet.
It is an extreme pity that this book has fallen out of print, but I’d encourage you to keep an eye out for it. For those of you in the Twin Cities, the Hennepin County Library has several copies. A sweet read for ages 2 or 3 and up.