It is officially the first day of spring and although many North American areas are being threatened by yet another forecast of snow, signs of spring are popping up everywhere. The beautiful (but stinky!) Bradford Pear trees are almost at full-bloom on my street and it is almost impossible to be anywhere near the outdoors and not hear the hopeful chirping of the birds in the trees. My featured book for today is most likely being celebrated on many lists as it is very new and still on many bookstore shelves, but I swoon over this book and feel the need to add my own praise into the masses. So here we have a book all about that long, somewhat dreadful, but oh so beautiful wait for the world to turn from brown to green. Here is And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Erin E. Stead, 2012.
In a market full of glossy, cartoon-eyed, bold colored, silly books, And Then It’s Spring stands far out from the normal, but in a very quiet way. I will not go off again on my intense love for uncoated paper as I have made that very clear in a past review; but allow me to point out that the uncoated paper stock of this beauty once again adds great depth and warmth to this sweet book.
The story is very simple and gently poetic. It all begins with brown, and then seeds, a wish for rain… and so goes the tale as a little boy and his various animal friends wait and wait and worry and wait for the coming of spring.
Author Julie Fogliano has debuted with this as her first book and I am truly impressed with her ability to write in such an edited and spare way. She has set the stage with her lovely text which is quite perfect for a picture book as it can be placed freely throughout the pages and given the moments of pause and thought each phrase requires. I believe if you read the text of this book altogether and in a paragraph, you would have the tendency to rush through it and miss the feeling, the longing, the real waiting, and the true joy that it so carefully speaks of. Truly well done Ms. Fogliano.
And then we have the fantastic illustrations of Erin E. Stead. I am an avid member of the Stead fan club (which doesn’t officially exist, I believe, but it should and I would be a member) and everything Ms. Stead creates is full of texture, beautifully muted color, gorgeous line detail, and characters that are lovely and relatable. I particularly love in this book how Ms. Stead bleeds some images off the pages and others are carefully contained within illustrated boundaries. Her technique and style is simply stunning. Her color palette is so breathtaking and she has a way of combining similar tones in an illustration and adding that one deep pop of color that you need to draw you in further. I love to sit and stare at every detail in her illustrations. I dared not include one of my favorite pages of this book as it is just too wonderful to not be seen in context and be surprised during the reading, so please find this book yourself and be delighted by a little boy’s worries for his seeds. To read more about her and see work in progress of this book and others visit this interview over on Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. And don’t forget about the new book coming from this duo in just a couple months!
My only last note that I feel necessary to add is that this book is calm. It is lovely and mesmerizing, but it is soft and subtle. Undiscerning little eyes may still need help honing in and learning to enjoy and appreciate a book like this. Consider it your job to teach how to love a piece of beauty such as this amidst all the chaos, noise and bright colors that demand attention in the market for children.
Personally, I think this is the perfect book to read outside, in the still breeze of the backyard, on a blanket that still feels slightly cool from the spring air. That’s where you’ll find us and this book.