Does it feel like spring yet where you are? I’m hearing rumors of Mountain West snow, and more atmospheric rivers in California. Or maybe you live somewhere that seasons don’t really exist — and the days just turn from warm to hot without much fanfare. Good thing there are so many amazing books to help us remember the wonder of spring!
1) And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano and Erin Stead is a comforting reminder that the browns of winter will yield to the glorious greens of spring. Caldecott winner Erin Stead crafts a subtle color palette that balances the spare and lyrical words. And note the tiny house on a hill in the background — it’s my favorite part of the storytelling illustrations!
2) What spring assortment of books would be complete without Peter Rabbit? Beatrix Potter’s timeless classic, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, is truly a masterpiece. Did you know that in addition to being a writer and illustrator she was a naturalist and conservationist? The garden setting of Peter Rabbit rang true to her heart — but Peter’s rebellion and endearing mischief will also remain the hallmark of this cautionary tale. Won’t you join me in a warm mug of chamomile tea to welcome spring and all its life?
3) The Longest Night, by Laurel Snyder and Catia Chen, is an epic Passover story — a retelling of the Exodus, straight from the Old Testament. It brings to life the birth of today’s traditions, with beautiful illustrations that wash over the lyrical words. The child’s point of view is striking, raw, and so easy to settle into. That perspective, along with the tandem dance of words and pictures, make this an unusually evocative look at this time of year.
4) I have a thing for fascinating endpapers, those colorful pages at the beginning and end of a book that frame the pages of the main story. Before I even got to the first words of An Egg is Quiet by Dianna Hutts Ashton and Sylvia Long, I was in love with this factual and utterly gorgeous book. This duo doesn’t stop at the obvious bird or dinosaur eggs — how about the tiniest lobster egg, the banana-shaped field cricket egg, or the very weird dogfish egg?
5) In 1943, Clare Turlay Newberry earned a Caldecott Honor for this small story about a bunny named Marshmallow. This gentle tale holds up beautifully — just a teeny ball of fur, Marshmallow adopts a big cat named Oliver as his mama. Understated art leaves plenty of room to breathe your own awe into the pages.
6) Another lovely look at Passover through the lens of a picture book is Nachson, Who Was Afraid to Swim, by Deborah Bodin Cohen and Jago. Nachson and his family are slaves in Egypt, but he dreams of freedom and is mostly brave. Even the locusts don’t scare him! But Nachson is afraid of the water, and it’s only when he realizes that he can be a leader by stepping in first that he has to face that fear. I adore the color and texture of these illustrations — the golden yellows and oranges feel extra warm against the cool freedom of the water, and the gritty, sand-like texture is a strong reminder of place.
7) Do you know The Egg Tree by Katherine Milhous? Another Caldecott winner! I have the fondest memory of a well-loved, mylar-ripped, smudgy-stained copy of this circulating in my library years ago. It’s a beautiful study in Pennsylvania Dutch egg painting traditions and stunning folk art, bound and paged. And inside, new family traditions are discovered and celebrated.
8) I have some fuzzy snapshot memories of the pictures in The Country Bunny and The Little Gold Shoes, by Dubose Heyword and Marjorie Flack, but I can’t remember where I first saw this. The library maybe? Or my grandmother’s house? This striking book was first published in 1939, and its surprisingly strong feminist message of perseverance and kindness of heart still resonate today. This Country Bunny is a strong mama, balancing work and home and putting herself on the career path that had previously only been held by man bunnies! Delightful and wholly encouraging, and like the bookplate inside says: For someone kind, wise, and brave.
9) You might know Margaret Wise Brown from the nighttime favorite, Goodnight Moon. But do you know about The Golden Egg Book? A magical story unfolds on the pages — a tale of a curious little bunny and an unfamiliar egg, and the wonder of friendship and the unknown. When the bunny is plumb tuckered out and napping, the mysterious egg hatches and the curiosity begins all over again.
10) Jan Brett’s books have that charming, classic feel — and her voice and style are so immediately recognizable. The Easter Egg tells the story of Hoppi, who wants nothing more than to help the Easter Rabbit deliver his treasures on Easter morning. But when Hoppi finds a fallen robin’s egg, he fiercely protects it and might miss his chance. Have you ever noticed how her pictures tell stories separate from the words? Be sure to study the border art in this one!
Now, what did I miss? What are your family’s favorite springtime titles?
By Carter Higgins for Design Mom.