Winter in Montreal sometimes feels endless. By March, even children who delight at the sight of snowflakes grow weary of constantly having to put on their snow pants, mitts, scarves, hats and boots. Even though the official beginning of spring may be right around the corner, it can still feel very far away. It might be time to give kids some hope that a change of season is coming. Here are a few books that should help them feel like spring is in the air, even if one last snowstorm rolls through just when we are ready to put the boots and coats away for the season!
(National Geographic Children’s Book, $5.95) by Jill Esbaum – Ages 2 to 5
Few publishers capture nature as beautifully as National Geographic, and its renowned photography perfectly illustrates the process of birth and regrowth that defines springtime. Evocative photos of tulips bursting through the snow, baby animals huddled in new grass and shrubs covered in flowers are paired with descriptive prose that takes children through nature’s transformation from one season to another. The result is a book that will make children appreciate spring in a new way. They will see not only the disappearance of the snow, but sense the new smells that infuse the air, the abundance of new life beginning to grow, as well as see the vast palette of colours taking over the landscape replacing winter’s many shades of grey. Without a doubt, this book will give children the urge to get back outside and experience the spring thaw in all its glory.
Picture a Tree
(North Winds Press, $19.99) by Barbara Reid – Ages 3 to 5
Nothing signifies spring like budding leaves on a tree, and Canadian author and illustrator Barbara Reid gives readers the ultimate tree experience in her bright and colourful book, Picture a Tree. Reid is known for her plasticine illustrations, a technique that gives her images a wonderfully textured, almost three-dimensional effect, perfect for bringing the magic of trees to life. In the book, she takes readers through the year of a tree, as its intricate form shifts and changes through the seasons. She shows how it can become a picture of many things as it goes through this transformation. From showing a tree’s frail skeletal branches during the long winter months, it bursts to life after the first raindrops and can become a thick canopy of green that, from a rooftop, can look almost like an ocean. As the author says towards the end, “Every winter tree holds spring, sleeping like a baby.” And when it’s awakened, it can also awaken the imagination after those long winter months.
And Then It’s Spring
(Roaring Book Press, $18.99) by Julie Fogliano – Ages 3 to 5
In this recently published book, Julie Fogliano focuses on the importance of spring as the season when crops are planted to provide our food. The author conveys her message simply, showing the muddy fields liberated from the weight of the snow. Small seeds are planted and then the wait begins to see if rain will come to feed the seeds and allow them to grow. Little rabbits wait patiently and expectantly by their plot of carrot seeds, wanting to see them sprout out of the ground. The soft illustrations by award-winning artist Erin Stead gives the book a slightly nostalgic feel and perfectly brings to life the simplicity with which nature runs its course and spring takes hold, as well as the complexity of how the weather impacts us all and carries with it more than hope for sunshine and warmth. Children will have a new view of that slightly dull transition period when the ground is brown, knowing that just below there is a plentitude of green waiting to burst forth and keep all of us going.