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Springtime’s here and the reading is breezy. Children’s Book Picks by the Crawford sisters, Patricia and Kerry.
BY Patricia A. Crawford and Kerry Crawford
In many ways, springtime is a tease: What appears also
conceals. Green buds pop into view, but it’s the full flower they hide within
that we’re really waiting for. And those, of course, won’t be in full bloom
The good news is that getting there is half the joy.
And, just as the signs of spring simultaneously delight and
promise something more to come, so too do the “young sprouts” in our families.
“Children represent the springtime, something that
flourishes, something new,” the Pontifical Council for the Family concluded in
the Jubilee Year 2000. “Our children, the springtime of the family and society,
are always a sign of hope for the world and for the Church.”
Here are some suggested springtime reads for the “growing
signs of hope” in your little world.
(All are available through local or online bookstores.)
Spring is Here
written and illustrated by Taro Gomi
34 pages, $6.95
“Spring is here. / The snow melts. / The earth is fresh…”
With sparse text, this chubby boardbook introduces this season and takes
readers on a whirlwind tour of the other three. Although the words are simple,
the pictures are cleverly complex. The story opens with an image of a
snow-white baby calf. A turn of the page reveals a calf that, with brown spots,
mirrors the melting snow. The visual play continues with the calf morphing
through each change of season, until winter returns along with the calf’s snow-white
image. While the bright colors will grab the attention of the very young, older
children will also be fascinated by the layered messages embedded in each
double-page spread. Ages 3 to 8.
Handsprings: Poems and Paintings
written and illustrated by Douglas Florian
Greenwillow Books, 2006
48 pages, $15.99
This collection of poems is just plain fun. Young readers
will say “Good-Bye, Winter” and warm up for the excitement ahead. “Our arms are
all rusty. / Our pitches are wild. / We’re constantly rattled, / And easily
riled” describes “Spring Training.” “Play Ball” captures the dream of every boy
and girl who steps up to bat: “The first grand-slam home run ball / Hit so hard
it lands in fall.” Other offerings include “Rain Reign,” a poem that takes the
shape of its subject and pours down its words across the page. Ages 4 to 8.
Spring: An Alphabet Acrostic
written by Steven Schnur
illustrated by Leslie Evans
Clarion Books, 1999
32 pages, $15.00
Spring comes alive in this book featuring an acrostic poem
and a colored linoleum-cut illustration on each page. K-I-T-E-S transforms, for
example, to “Knees pumping, we run / Into the wind, strings / Taut, / Eyes
fixed on the / Sky.” Many of the acrostics speak of new birth (“Buds,” “Calf,”
“Eggs,” “Seeds”) and springtime fun (“Hopscotch,” “Raft,” “Umpire”). The
collection reaches its “Zenith” when summer arrives amid the greening of
zucchinis and eggplants. Ages 8 to 12.
written by Bob Raczka
illustrated by Judy Stead
Albert Whitman & Company, 2007
28 pages, $16.95
Snow “melting” and “dripping” gives way to
“thunderstorming,” “budding” and “sprouting” in this book in which the words,
like spring, end in “-ing.” When bees start “buzzing” and hummingbirds
“humming,” young readers know that a new season, summer, is soon “coming.” In
terms of kid-appeal, the big and colorful pictures are, well, “stunning.” Ages
4 to 8.
Countdown to Spring:
An Animal Counting
written by Janet Schulman
illustrated by Meilo So
Alfred A. Knopf, 2002
24 pages, $6.99 (checked price)
This sturdy boardbook counts down the animals that signal
spring. Starting with “10 Ladybugs crawling all around the crocuses,” children
will visit with, to name just a few, ducklings, chicks, bunnies and squirrels.
At the end, there is one basket filled with goodies for all the animals met
along the way. Lovely watercolor illustrations accompany the countdown. Ages 1
Kitten’s First Full Moon
written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes
40 pages, $16.99
When Kitten looks up in the night sky, she sees a full moon
for the very first time. Hungry Kitten is sure that something that white and
round must be a bowl of delicious milk. She must have it! But, no matter how
far she runs or how high she climbs, she just can’t reach the elusive — and
illusive — treat. Finally, exhausted, Kitten returns home to find a real bowl
of milk waiting just for her. The black-and-white charcoal illustrations give
the comfortable storyline a retro feel. Ages 3 to 8.
Splish, Splash, Spring
Written by Jan Carr
Illustrated by Dorothy Donohue
Holiday House, 2002
32 pages, $6.95
Three friends dressed in bright rain slickers and carrying
umbrellas set out on an adventure. Changing weather is just one of the things
they encounter on their way (“Sun comes peeking / Hide-and-seeking / Days are
playful / Spring’s a-sprout”). Baby robins (“Chit-chit-cheeping”), slimy slugs,
yellow flowers (“Hocus-pocus! / There’s a crocus!”), and “loop-de-looping”
kites remind the trio that spring has sprung. Paper collage art adds appeal.
Ages 4 to 8.
And the Good Brown Earth
Written and illustrated by Kathy Henderson
40 pages, $6.99
Springtime is planting time. If plants are going to grow,
they need loving care and the cooperation of the good, brown earth. So Joe and
Gram get busy: They work hard in their garden — tilling, planting, weeding and,
finally, harvesting. This intergenerational tale not only captures the beauty
of God’s earth, but also the excitement and satisfaction that comes from taking
care of it. Ages 3 to 8.
Spring Is Here
Written and illustrated by Lois Lenski
Random House for Young Readers, 2005
56 pages, $9.95
This little book was originally introduced in the 1940s and
re-released in the ’70s. Now available for a new generation of young readers,
it celebrates the joys of being outdoors (“Spring is here today! / Open the
door, / Come out and play — / Spring has come to stay!”) and the wonders of new
life. Ages 1 to 4.
The Crawford Sisters
write from Pittsburgh.