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And Then It's Spring

Children's Picture Book Review

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

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Cover of And Then It's Spring picture book
Roaring Book Press

Introduction

And Then It's Spring is for every young child who has ever waited and waited for spring, anticipating seeds sprouting and grass growing, only to begin to wonder if spring will ever come. The story is told with mostly double-page spreads of illustrations with just a line or two of text. The muted color palette, with a few bright splashes of color, the art techniques used and the touches of whimsy in the illustrations by Erin E. Stead add greatly to the story by Julie Fogliano.

The Story

Julie Fogliano's story, And Then It's Spring, is told in single- and double-page spreads with just a line or two of text. A little boy, warmly dressed in a striped dark green and brown sweater with a bright red knit cap, scarf and mittens stands out in a field near his house. It's winter and "all around you have brown."

The boy is accompanied by a brown dog, a turtle with a red cap on, with a rabbit nearby. (Have fun watching them all as you share the book with your children.) The boy takes his wagon filled with pots and seeds out to the field and plants seeds, marking their locations with mounds of dirt and signs.

The boy's wish for rain comes true and while rains falls, the ground remains brown, although a "hopeful" brown. Despite a close look with a magnifying glass, all the boy and his companions see is brown. After a week, there's no change and the boy begins to worry about the seeds. Maybe the birds ate them or bears stomped on them, despite the signs telling them not to.

Another week passes. Everything is still brown, but there's a "greenish hum" coming from underneath the ground where chipmunks and other animals burrow. Still another week passes and the boy hangs his tire swing from the big tree in the field. A sunny day follows a rainy day and, finally, when the boy goes out to look, everything is green. The final illustration shows seeds sprouting, the animals enjoying the sunny day and the boy swinging on his tire swing, surrounded by green plants and grass. What joy!

The Artwork: How Stead Creates Her Illustrations

Erin E. Stead uses a technique that is somewhat rare in children's books, but very effective. She uses thin pieces of wood to create woodcuts for the colors she wants to use. After cutting and printing, she then uses a sharp pencil to create all of the details in her illustrations. For a look at how she does it, see the Erin E. Stead video in which she discusses the technique in the context of A Sick Day for Amos McGee. The effect of the printing is a textured, mottled look, that, when coupled with the pencil details, makes the illustrations particularly inviting.

Author Julie Fogliano and Illustrator Erin E. Stead

Although And Then It's Spring, is her first children's book, creating it was not the first time that Julie Fogliano and illustrator Erin E. Stead worked together. Some years ago, the two worked together at a bookstore in New York City.

Stead won the 2011 Randolph Caldecott Medal for picture book illustration for her first children's book, A Sick Day For Amos McGee, which was written by her husband, Philip C. Stead. I was interested to note in the book credits for And Then It's Spring that Philip Stead, along with Jennifer Browne, was responsible for the book's design.

(Sources: Macmillan, Erin E. Stead: Official Web Site)

And Then It's Spring: My Recommendation

I can see And Then It's Spring being a book young children will enjoy hearing again and again, both for the story and for all of the whimsical details in Stead's illustrations. Once you read the book to your kids, you can go back again and have them tell you the story of what the dog is doing on each page, or the rabbit, or the turtle, or the birds. There's a lot of fun to be had in carefully looking at all of the details in this picture book.

I also think that the book will inspire many young children to plant their own seeds, whether in a pot on the windowsill or in the garden, depending on whether you have your own garden plot or not. I recommend And Then It's Spring for ages 4 and older. (Roaring Brook Press, 2012. ISBN: 9781596436244)

Additional Recommendation

For an annotated list of recommended picture books about spring gardening, see Children's Picture Books About Gardens and Gardening. If you are interested in introducing your kids to growing and eating food from your garden, I recommend Simply in Season Children's Cookbook. For seasonal poetry, beautifully illustrated with miniature quilts, see Pieces: A Year in Poems and Quilts.

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