May 4, 2012

And Then It's Spring

And Then It's Spring
By Julie Fogliano
Illustrated by Erin E. Stead
3-4 Preschool Primary
Roaring Brook 32 pp.
978-1596436244 Hardcover $16.99

 And Then It's Spring very quietly took me by surprise. After a long winter, a boy and his dog are tired of brown, ("First you have brown, all around you have brown), so they decide to plant a garden. They plant seeds in the brown dirt and watch the garden for signs of growth through sunshine and rain, always keeping an eye out for a little green. Slowly, the brown becomes a more "hopeful shade of brown" until the garden blooms under their nurturing care.

On the face of it, And Then It's Spring is a straight-forward story about anticipation rewarded. It's the prosaic and visual journey Fogliano and Stead take us on to get to the blooming garden that makes it special. Fogliano's prose is poetic and rhythmic and whimsical without ever losing its grounding in the story, so that when the boy, concerned that the seeds are not growing puts up a sign that says, "please do not stomp here - there are seeds and they are trying," (it's aimed at bears and other stomping creatures), the reader is charmed by his quirky earnestness while never losing sight of his very serious goal. Stead, who won the Caldecott last year for A Sick Day for Amos McGee, gives And Then It's Spring the same meticulous treatment, gradually altering the tone of the browns so that they become lighter and more "hopeful" the closer they get to spring.

There is so much I could say about And Then It's Spring, so many reasons why it's such an excellent book, but interest of brevity, I will simply say that it is a book that rewards slow readings and careful eyes, (look for details like a turtle wearing a red hat that matches the boy's). It is a book that takes a reader by quietly by surprise - like the first, tiny glimpse of green after months and months of brown.

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