Spring Transition Favorites

The coming of spring is probably the most prolific genre of seasonal transition books in the picture book world.  Summer is absolutely the LEAST written about as far as transition time goes… likely because it’s a much more subtle change than the crisping of leaves in fall and falling of snow in winter.  With spring it’s the new life and the great thaw.

I know half the country is blanketed with snow still but here in the Pacific Northwest, early buds are peeking defiantly out of the cold, frozen ground. And we ought to scream at them, “Wait! Not yet! It’s too soon!”  Not because we don’t welcome the sun and 60 degree weather but because we are afraid the frost season isn’t over and any current warm spell is some sort of cosmic trickery.

But I will take this opportunity to revel in some of my favorite books of the time and opine about which springtime titles merit being called some of the BEST in “seasonal transition literature.” A couple are pulled from my general Top Ten Springtime Book list.

 It’s Springtime, Mr. Squirrel. I am a Sebastian Meschenmoser groupie and zealot. We LOVE his book Waiting for Winter and have delighted in his other titles as well. So when this book came out this year, it was irresistable for me.  Silly Mr. Squirrel is back… and the gentle, wry humor of Meschenmoser’s illustrations steal the show once again.

 When the Root Children Wake Up.  Like many of Elsa Beskow’s glorious titles, beware of purchasing Sybille Von Olfers’ books that seem like a bargain deal.  Mostly sold nowadays are the mini-editions which are alright, but don’t do justice to the original illustrations.  Often the quality is compromised in the reprints. But when you find these big, ol’ hardcovers… they are wonderful, satisfying drinks of whimsy.

 Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit: A Book of Changing Seasons by Il Sung Na. I purchased this board book recently for my daughter to fill in our baby book basket. It is delightful and fun.  Il Sung Na’s style is so unique, I am always happy to have her books offer a bit of a different picture than the rich, traditional drawings.  I think this would make a marvelous precursor to her A Book of Babies which seems to be just about perfect springtime reading…

Spring Thaw by Steven Schnur is such an obvious choice with the gorgeous, pastoral setting and oil painted illustrations by Stacey Schuett and the light, quiet text. I discussed it more here.

 In Like a Lion Out Like a Lamb.  This fun little story personifies the old adage: “March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb.” The old beast wreaks havoc in a boy’s home before the sweet, little lamb ushers in springtime…

 And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano and Erin Stead is one of those rare books that I bought at full price right when I saw it.  I was and still am enamored by the cadence and pacing of this book. I declare it to be a must have. When read properly, it’s bliss.

 At Grandpa’s Sugar Bush and/or  Sugarbush Spring by Marsha Wilson Chall.  Any beginning of spring list should include at least one title about tapping maple trees.  Both of these are great choices in their own right. Rich, luscious artwork, either title will make non-New Englanders wish they could trample the slushy snow and tap trees. If I had to choose one, I’d only be able to base it on whether I wanted my child to identify with the female or male voice. Now if anyone reading this happens to know or get a hold of The Sugaring-Off Party, please let me know what you think! I’m dying to see those folksy illustrations up close.

 You’re probably familiar with the winter delight, Owl Moon, but did you know about Goose Moon by Carolyn Arden and Jim Postier? The story kicks off with winter coming when geese fly southward and a little girl enjoys the season of sledding and fun. But eventually it gets tiresome and she longs for springtime. Her grandpa tells her how we can tell spring is coming and the story ends with the arrival of a very special moonlit moment.

 Sun Bread by Elisa Kleven. Another one heavy on the excellent rhyme and meter, I’m in love with this book. A town needs to shake off the cold and positively FORCE springtime into existence with the baking of sun bread. The always enchanting Kleven illustrations bring this one alive.

 When Spring Comes by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock traipses through the various (19th century) activities a girl longs for while she waits for the sun to return after winter. This is also illustrated by Stacey Scheuett who did Spring Thaw. I like the easy amount of text that stands back just enough to let the gorgeous illustrations tell the story.

  Crinkle, Crackle, CRACK It’s Spring!  Calling all onamatopeia lovers!  What is that sound as winter wanes on its last holdout and begins to fall apart…?  This is the book for you, ending in lovely little splurge of whimsy.  John Shelley’s illustrations evoke an interesting blend of vintage while still being novel and warm.

 When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes became an instant favorite of mine when I first saw it.  Henkes is the perfect illustrator for this season with bright, full colors and primary, simple scenes.  He and his wife managed to produce an elegant, rythmic book that ought to be read in every home.

 Abracadabra, it’s Spring! This title by Anne Sibley O’Brien is an eruption of color and rhyme and beauty. It’s companion volume (Hocus Pocus, it’s Fall!) is equally fun and enjoyable. These are both perfect for the pre-school set…

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