Tuesday, February 21, 2012

And Then It's Spring, by Julie Fogliano and Erin Stead (ages 3 - 8)

Just last weekend, my youngest told me I needed some "outside time" and we were going to go garden. She dug out the gardening gloves, shovels and seeds. Yes, she's one determined young 7 year old who know she needs to lead the way and claim her mother's attention. Children have an innate sense of the seasons and they marvel in the magic of watching a plant grow. In many ways, it's a microcosm of all the changes their little bodies are going through. And Then It's Spring, by Julie Fogliano and Erin Stead, is a beautiful, beautiful new book that celebrates this magical change in a wonderfully quiet way.
And Then It's Spring
by Julie Fogliano
illustrated by Erin E. Stead
NY: Roaring Brook Press, 2012
ages 3 - 8
available at your local library, favorite bookstore or on Amazon
A young boy waits and waits for winter to end, with quiet determination of a young boy who knows that if he can just wait long enough, change will happen. With spare, poetic text, Fogliano conveys the quiet waiting as winter keeps its hold on the earth.

The small boy and his dog venture outside to carefully plant seeds in his garden. All around the earth is brown. They wait for the rain to come and the seeds to grow, but winter holds on: “... and it is still brown, but a hopeful, very possible sort of brown.”
© Erin E. Stead, 2012

With just a few phrases on each page, the measured pacing of this book makes the reader slow down and notice the world around, as the anticipation builds. This works beautifully either as a read aloud - the illustrations draw listeners in with their large blocks of color, even from afar - or as a quiet book to read by yourself, pouring over each illustration.

Erin Stead uses woodblock prints and colored pencil, the same technique she used with her Caldecott winning book A Sick Day for Amos McGee. Her soft palette helps create the sense of quiet waiting - this winter is not dreary, but still, as if on the cusp of something about to change. The wide open spaces created by the fields, the sky and the clouds give a peaceful quality to the images. The pencil drawings of the busy animals draw the reader’s eye to notice small details in every page.

The climax will bring smiles and satisfaction, as green spreads across the hills in a sure sign that spring has come.

Watch this lovely book trailer to get a sense of the quiet magic of this book:

I have been waiting and waiting to share this book ever since it took my breath away the first time I read it last summer. It was released last week, and already people are talking about it. It is truly special. The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher Neal Porter / Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

Review ©2012 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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