Book Corner: Sprightly Springtime Picture Books

Daffodils are popping up, trees are blooming, we’ve gone through the change to Daylight Savings Time—spring must be here! The change from short, cold days is always a welcome one and a great excuse to enjoy some fun and beautiful picture books with your favorite child.

An ABC of Flowers by Jutta Hilpuesch
There is an abundance of ABC books for children, and many of them take a particular theme. An ABC of Flowers does not specifically focus on spring, but I think spring is a perfect time to explore this gorgeous display of flowers. Each page has a large letter of the alphabet in a soft pastel color, overlain with an extra large, bright photo of a flower that starts with that letter. This allows the flowers to burst from the page and take center stage. The photos are large enough and detailed enough to see the complexity of these flowers; we can see that the petals of the carnation have delicate crinkles, those of the evening primrose are nearly translucent, and those of the kalanchoe are tipped in white. From aster to zinnia, children will enjoy exploring these beauties of nature.

Almost Time by Gary D. Schmidt and Elizabeth Stickney
Ethan anxiously awaits sugaring time, when the sap starts running in the trees and maple syrup is made. When Ethan asks repeatedly if it’s time, his dad tells him, “Not until the days get warmer” and “When the nights get shorter.”  Finally, one day his dad meets Ethan at the school bus and shows him that he’s hung the buckets for the sap. For days, Ethan and his dad haul buckets of sap and keep the fire going under the pans as the sap boils. Their hard work pays off in a major way: sweet maple syrup on Ethan’s Sunday morning pancakes.

Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring by Kenard Pak
The first few pages of this picture book make us feel downright chilly. Illustrations in gray portray the stark cold that winter brings: snow, frozen ponds, and bare tree limbs whipped around by harsh winds. But as the days get longer, the sun warms everything, and spring emerges and changes the grays of winter into the vibrant colors of spring. Receding snow reveals bright green spring grass, ponds thaw to reveal blue water and wiggly fish, shiny new leaves and flowering buds appear on tree limbs. The signs of life that emerge in spring seem endless: brightly colored flowers, red robins, and blue jays. As the illustrations in this picture book change from the grays of winter to the bright colors of spring, the overall mood of the book changes from gloom to exuberance, culminating in a joyful welcoming of spring.

On A Snow-melting Day by Buffy Silverman
Sparse rhyming words bounce through a series of photographs showing the changes happening in nature in springtime.

Snowmen droop.
Cardinals swoop.
Rabbits bounce.
Foxes pounce.

Images include things both familiar (mud boots) and less familiar (salamander) in this search for signs of spring. The photographs are dynamic and will surely engage children as they examine a chickadee sipping from a melting icicle, a beaver gnawing on a stick, and a tulip pushing up from the soil.

The Song of Spring by Hendrik Jonas
As spring emerges, so do the chirping, singing birds. One little bird, though, cannot remember his song of spring. He tries to find his song, but, when he opens his beak, the wrong kind of sounds keep coming out. First, a “woof” that brings ‘round the dog. Then an “oink,” which attracts a pig. Then a “moo.”  Eventually, this poor bird is surrounded by a large group of animals including a cat, a donkey, and a goat. But he knows his song is still not right. Then he hears a loud, odd sound and looks up to see a lonely little bird. She is also having trouble finding her spring song, but she is lucky enough to have found a new group of friends who don’t care.

Darcie Caswell is the Youth Services Coordinator at CRRL. This column originally appeared in The Free Lance-Star newspaper.