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Sunday, April 8, 2012

and then it's spring, written by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Erin E. Stead. Roaring Brook Press, 2012. $18.99 ages 3 and up

"or maybe it was the bears
and all that stomping,
because bears can't read signs
that say things like
'please do not stomp here -
there are seeds
and they are trying'

There is so much to the story of a garden! It is why I don't grow one and count on my friend Stephanie for all of the beautiful and supremely delicious vegetables that I eat all summer. She has the touch, and I am ever so thankful that she does. There are many concerns when you set out to plant a garden of your own.

Julie Fogliano knows that and she presents those concerns in this lovely new book for spring. It is just the book that I would have wanted to share with my kindergartners when we were talking about the beauty of a new season.

The snow is gone, but the biting chill has not yet disappeared. When we first meet the bespectacled boy and his dog, we are only too aware of that. He is still bundled in mittens, a scarf and a knit cap. The ground is a muddy brown, the bullrushes bedraggled and chimney smoke billows in the background. But, there are seeds and a need to plant them. As the sun shines and the rain falls, we share the boy's wish for growth in his garden.

Now, the brown seems less drear, the puddles attract birds and turtles and the smoke plume has diminished. There is no green yet. A week passes and there is a worry about those tiny seeds and what might happen to them. There is hope:

"and the brown,
still brown,
has a greenish hum
that you can only hear
if you put your ear to the ground
and close your eyes"

With patience and the passing weeks a new day dawns, alive with the greens of a warm world and its many joys.

Quietly conceived for young readers, this is a book that will invite numerous visits and a fresh look at the arrival of spring for those who know it's worth the wait. Erin Stead's talent is evident on every page (down to each tiny detail) and should ensure her a place on this year's list for Caldecott consideration. It will be well deserved for this very talented young artist.

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