Springtime has finally arrived and so have birds, blossoms and little critters. Here are several picture books celebrating this magical and beautiful season. All of these books are good for ages four and up.
Cricket Song, by Anne Hunter, is a gorgeously illustrated book that fills the pages with soft watercolor hues that wash over you like the stillness of night. The lilt of the words rises and lowers with each passing page as you hear the crickets singing in the night as a child slumbers off to sleep. That song is joined by a frog and continues with other animals. At the bottom of each page is a smaller picture of another place in the world with the sun coming up and moving across the sky as you turn each page. You begin to feel part of nature and of this most beautiful world. If you’ve never read one of Ms. Hunter’s books, this will be a treat for you. She has a gift for connecting our eyes with all that surrounds us. Hurray for Spring!
Every Day Birds, by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, and illustrated with cut colored paper and intricately layered by Dylan Metrano, showcases birds that are often seen in many parts of the country. The text is simple and points out one simple attribute each bird has, thereby making them unique. “Woodpecker taps hollow trees. Crow rests on a wire.” There is only one bird shown on each page which helps to highlight the differences between each. The font is large and so are the birds which should help your young ornithologists to identify these majestic soaring animals.
All Year Round, by Susan B. Katz, and illustrated with pencil on paper and then recreated digitally by Eiko Ojala, includes important concepts in this simple rhyming book. Each double open-page displays a month of the year. There is a particular shape emphasized in larger, colorful font and the four-line poem highlights something particular to that month. “A half circle, / don’t let go. / Showers, sunshine, / a real rainbow!” And the bright pictures are a perfect match with these delightful poems!
When Spring Comes, by Kevin Henkes, and vibrantly painted with acrylic by Laura Dronzek, is a celebration of spring. Each page exhibits particular parts of this season from eggs cracking open to muddy puddles in rain. The simple euphonious phrases blend pictures to words with a choral-like arrangement. “Before Spring comes, / the trees look like / black sticks against the sky. / But if you wait, / Spring will bring / leaves and blossoms.” This beautiful book brings all the newness of this season.
I Don’t Like Snakes, by Nicola Davies, and illustrated with mixed media by Luciano Lozano, has a family who has snakes for their pets. However, the young girl (who is telling this story) does not like snakes. Her exclamation causes her mom and dad to begin to teach her all about the many attributes of snakes. Along the way, Lozano perfectly illustrates many different types of snakes. And this young girl ends up appreciating this reptile and the title actually has the word “Don’t” crossed out. This is the season – as the weather warms – when snakes in colder climates come out of hibernation. So this book can be advantageous to many.
The Night Gardener, by The Fan Brothers, is a breath-taking story rich with gorgeous pictures and a story that will linger. The story actually begins upon opening the book. The town is a dingy brown with its citizens looking downward and a bit depressed. The very next page (which still isn’t the actual beginning) has a young boy drawing an owl in the dirt and an older gentleman is walking by carrying a ladder and equipment. Late that night you discover the gentleman has climbed a tree and seems to be shaping it with his clippers. The next morning, the town sees the leaves have been transformed into a green leafy owl. This is the first hint of color and each day more trees are transformed into different shapes. Before long, this has brightened the town and the book is now rich in color. The pictures were drawn in graphite and colored digitally.
Holey Moley, by Lois Ehlert, begins with a mole, who has dug a hole in the cover, and who proceeds to dig another hole into the story. This mole, who also narrates this lyrical story, continues going through dirt looking for food. She sees worms “that look inviting, but I’m not biting.” So onward and upward she goes as she digs. Roots of many vegetables become visible. Above ground, Mole sees bugs chomping away at the vegetables and so she decides to dine on those “pests”. Ehlert is spectacular with her cut-out collage art. No one does this better than her. Be sure to check out the back of the book with information about all living specimens found in the story.
Little Butterfly, by Laura Logan, is a beautiful wordless book that teaches something Aesop once said: “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” A young girl saves an amber-colored butterfly and before long she finds herself surrounded by thousands of these butterflies. They lift her and take her on a place filled with even more butterflies and her adventure doesn’t end there. Many conversations and inventive angles from children are waiting to be observed by exploring this outstanding book. Butterfly information can be found in the author’s note at the back.
Dig In!, by Cindy Jenson-Elliott, and illustrated by using linoleum block prints on paper and digitally touched up by Mary Peterson, is a celebration of dirt. The two-page spread throughout shows simplistically what you can find in dirt. “I dig in the dirt….”. Turn the page “…and find a worm.” A large dirty hand reaches for a small little worm. Each page sets up what this hand might find upon turning to the next page. There is much to learn about dirt but more than that, it’s fun to play in.