Here in Minneapolis we careened from winter into spring seemingly overnight this past week.
Mountains of tired old snow still huddle in parking lots,
saggy patches of it lie desolate and defeated in our yards,
matted carpets of dead, yellow-brown grass and nary a bud in sight paint a somewhat bleary, barely-awake look to the world just now.
So, no vivacious spring green and perky blossoms yet, but mild breezes, plenty of sunshine, and more birdsong throughout the day are sure signs of changes to come.
My books today celebrate these very beginnings of spring, rather than the luscious, flowery business we northerners have to patiently await.
Snowman – Cold = Puddle: Spring Equations, written by Laura Purdie Salas, illustrated by Micha Archer
published in 2019 by Charlesbridge
What a delightful and clever book!
A series of equations translates nature’s springtime happenings — from the activity in a bee hive to the wafting perfume of a lilac bush to the drumming of a woodpecker — into picturesque, ingenuous word-formulas.
Moving from early spring awakenings to the warm, rich days of late spring, Salas covers a great deal of ground, giving the briefest of scientific explanations as well. Archer brings the pages to vigorous blooming life with her gorgeous paper collages. Every spread is ablaze in color and features a lovely diversity of children. Love this for a wide variety of ages and understanding, 4 and up.
A Good Day for Ducks, written by Jane Whittingham, illustrated by Noel Tuazon
published in 2018 by Pajama Press
This exuberant ode to the joys of rainy days is toddler perfection!
The brief, lyrical text ripples with energy as two children head out to play in the rain, jumping in puddles, squishing in mud, watching worms squiggle and ducks quack. When thunder booms, they head indoors for cozier fun, slurping mugs of hot cocoa, painting jolly pictures of — what else — ducks!
Swishy, perky watercolor illustrations amplify the sense of freedom and joy. Ages 18 months and up.
William Wakes Up, written by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Chuck Groenink
published in 2019 by Disney Hyperion
Spring is just peeping through the neighborhood so William knows a special friend will be arriving soon. It’s time to bake a celebratory cake!
To tackle that task, William needs help. One by one he rousts the sleepy lunks snoring in a crowded bed. Chipmunk, Porcupine, Groundhog, Bear all get up and pitch in, albeit not terribly vigorously! Raccoon, however, sleeps on. When it’s time for that Welcome Cake, will the working crew be willing to share with him?
A sprightly, skippeting text, full of heart and humor is perfectly paired with illustration work bursting with the funny personalities of these beleaguered characters and the sunny hopefulness of springtime. A surefire winner for ages 2 and up. And what a good idea — to bake a Welcome, Spring cake! Let’s get right on that!
In Blossom, written and illustrated by Yooju Cheon
first published in Korea in 2015; English edition 2019 by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Ethereal, cherry blossom pink, delicate whisper-gray line, the hush of a serene morning in a quiet garden, and two reserved personalities, all bathe this tender story in an aura of charm and sweetness.
On a “sun twinkling day” one cat takes her picnic of sushi and tea to a garden bench perfectly overhung by a branch of blushing pink blossoms. Soon, a dog arrives and sits on the far end of the bench. He is absorbed in a book, she in her luncheon. Until one fluttering petal lands on cat’s nose with a tiny tickle.
How that fragment of beauty serves to connect these two strangers — that’s the quiet magic of springtime portrayed in this elegant story. Gorgeous, restrained, evocative and warm-hearted, for ages 4 and up.
North: The Amazing Story of Arctic Migration, written by Nick Dowson, illustrated by Patrick Benson
published in 2011 by Candlewick Press
This is one of the most beautiful, majestic portraits of the Arctic I’ve seen. Every page is captivating.
Nick Dowson’s strong, descriptive language romances us with this extraordinary region and the surprising abundance of life that arrives yearly to take advantage of endless daylight, vast spaces, and abundant food.
He traces the journeys of gray whales from a Mexican lagoon up along the Pacific Coast to the Arctic Circle, as well as terns, godwhits, snow geese, white cranes, caribou, walrus, a “silver herring shoal”… bringing them to an all-too-short, glorious, Arctic summer. Soon enough September comes and it’s time to make the rigorous journey back.
Patrick Benson’s watercolor illustration work makes every page a show-stopper. Feast your eyes on the glow of golden algae spreading across ice fields, aqua waters teeming with fish, a mossy tundra dappled in wildflowers. Come eye to eye with terns and jaegers tussling for fish, a lumbersome walrus, a bowhead whale splintering through ice in the northernmost reaches. A splendid gem of a book for ages 5 through adult.
Salamander Sky, written by Katy Farber, illustrated by Meg Sodano
published in 2018 by Green Writers Press
April, a young girl, is alert for the signs of spring that appear in the month which shares her name.
When April rains come, she knows that below ground “snug among the roots…waiting, waiting, for the rain to be just right,” shy salamanders begin to scrabble their way up and out, heading for Spring pools and ponds. To get there, they often have to slimpse their way across roads where they can easily be killed by cars.
So out she goes in her rain gear, with her mom, plus a trusty flashlight, to scout for salamanders, scoop them gently up from roadways, and give them a lift to the other side. Farber’s text predominantly tells of this outdoor adventure through April’s eyes, including just a bit of information about the importance of salamanders to our ecosystems. Sodano’s illustrations are rich with earthy colors and textures. I love the vitality of April and her mom that shines through. An enticing, interesting read, perfect for ages 4 and up.
Find lots more stories perfect for Spring on my list here!