The nicest season of the year to be outside is right now. Animals, plants and bugs all come alive in the warmth of the sun. Here are picture books that are good for all ages, unless otherwise indicated, to help celebrate this season of nature and enjoy the great outdoors.
Picnic, by John Burningham, is a sweet story reminiscent of days long ago when children played outside and made simple fun plans for an outdoor excursion. In this story two children head out for a picnic. When their three animal friends see them, they all decide to go together. But a deterrent changes their direction when a bull chases them and they run toward the woods. However, they escape the bull and enjoy a perfect picnic in the sun. The text is simple, the book is oversized and the painted illustrations fill in the story (which includes interaction with the reader).
Little Pear Tree, by Jenny Bowers, takes the reader through the life cycle of a tiny pear seed as it grows to maturity throughout the seasons. There are twenty-five flaps to lift where small insects and plant life will be discovered. There is much to learn as youngsters, ages 2 to 5, will become engaged and learn from the delightful rhyming text. The book is made of sturdy paper and tall in size and the illustrations are vivid in color.
Some Bugs, by Angela DiTerlizzi, and painted with mixed media by Brendan Wenzel, is a brilliantly colorful book packed with many types of little critters that aren’t all bugs. There are spiders and scorpions included in this mix. It begins with a gray cat stepping out onto the porch and from that page the small creatures that dwell on, and in, the earth are portrayed in an engaging and entertaining way. The rhyming text is simple and fun to read out loud. You’ll find every critter found throughout the book labeled with its familiar name.
Mama Built a Little Nest, by Jennifer Ward, and illustrated by the brilliant award winner Steve Jenkins, showcases many different types of birds and their unique nests. The book reads easily on the left side of each open-page spread with a four line rhyme simply describing the bird. On the opposite side, more detail is found as well as a higher reading level. Jenkins’ trademark colorful cut-paper collages are once again a perfect rendering of each bird. There are burrowing owls with nests underground and the emperor penguin who uses the father’s feet and his tummy folds for the nest. “Mama built a little nest. / My daddy helped out too. / They placed my egg upon his feet. / That’s where I hatched and grew.” The ending perfectly ties a child’s nest, his bed, into the theme of the book.
Weeds Find a Way, by Cindy Jenson-Elliott, and illustrated with a stunning use of glorious colors by using mixed media and digital collage by Carolyn Fisher, actually celebrates the hearty weed. A young girl and her pooch take a walk on the wild side of seasonal weeds and a glorious text of weed’s descriptive growth follows. “Weeds send their seeds / into the world in wondrous ways: / fluffing up like feathers / and floating away on the wind” shows the girls blowing a dandelion as seeds float away. “Meet The Weeds” found at the back gives much more information along with each particular weed’s innocuous and/or helpful traits.
Rooting For You: A Moving Up Story, by Susan Hood, and illustrated by Matthew Cordell, is a story about persevering, never giving up and how others can help you solve problems. A tiny seed is most comfortable in the dark soil and exclaims: “I am NOT coming out!” But as it becomes bored, the seed sends out a tiny shoot. This page opens into a foldout page exhibiting stretching until it becomes blocked by a rock. A worm appears and helps this root find a way up to “soft warm skies”. This inventive book showcases a long stem as it grows by including foldout pages along the way. The last page has a double foldout for the wondrous daisy the seed becomes. Both art and text is simple yet distinctly powerful in this book’s message.
Superworm, by Julia Donaldson, and brightly painted by Axel Scheffler, is a hero among his community of toads, bees, beetles and an array of insects. But when a deceitful lizard kidnaps him, his friends gather their forces and make things right once more so that Superworm can do what he does best: make life happy. He does this by acting as a swing, slide and even a hula hoop. The color jumps off the pages and the rhyming text makes this a perfect read-out-loud.
Nest, by Jorey Hurley, is a majestic story that takes you through a year in the life of a robin. But the majesty is the stunning effect of the simplistic way this story is told. Each page shows a clean spread of a robin couple as they begin their year with their nest. Each page has muted colors and only the picture of the subject and the season. The text has just one word on each two-page spread. So the picture of the nest has the parent robins and their baby breaking through the egg and the text reads: “hatch”. The author’s note at the back describes more about robins and the inspiration for the author’s brilliant debut book.
Aviary Wonders, Inc.: Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual, by Kate Samworth, is a cleverly imagined book for older kids, ages 8 and up, to enjoy, create and appreciate all that makes our flying animals amazing. It begins with: “Some species are disappearing. Others are already gone. Not to worry! AVIARY WONDERS, INC. has the solution.” And so it does. The rest of these gorgeously painted pages detail a creatively combined assortment of bird parts for the reader to choose to create a new brand of bird. There’s a section on tails, feathers and even bird songs. What’s left is your burgeoning imagination which will surely be sparked as you read through this creative book. Teachers make note! What a perfect book for imagination!