So we’re inside for a large amount of every day, but it’s still Spring outside. I’ve been looking at some beautiful picture books that celebrate the season, and thought I’d bring a little Spring to you.
The Nest That Wren Built, by Randi Sonenshine/Illustrated by Anne Hunter, (March 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536201536
An ode to nature in the form of that most famous of cumulative poems, The House That Jack Built. Two wrens build a nest and a family that comes to life as the story progresses. Flowing with imagery and details about Carolina wrens, author Randi Sonenshine and illustrate Anne Hunter create a lovely story that gives readers new surprises to behold on every spread: This is the snakeskin warding off harm, / a scaly and thin reptilian charm, / draped on the nest that Wren built”; “This is the tuft of rabbity fur, / plucked from a sharp, persnickety burr, / to warm the nest that Wren built”. Gentle ink and pencil illustrations in natural browns and greens are just breathtaking which each spread’s reveal. A glossary and page with facts about wrens add additional learning.
An excellent choice for storytimes and for STEM/Science classes for preschoolers and kindergartners. Great inspiration for bird-related crafts and activities, like these DIY bird binoculars or this fun sensory activity. The Audobon Society has a page dedicated to the Carolina Wren, and you can read Laura Donnelly’s poem dedicated to Carolina Wrens here.
The Nest That Wren Built
has a starred review from Kirkus
, by Carme Lemniscates, (March 2020, Candlewick Press), $14.99, ISBN: 9781536208443
A narrative on the literal and metaphorical power of seeds. “They embark on amazing adventures”, author Carme Lemniscates begins, with illustrations of seed journeys via dandelion puffs and sunflower seeds; underground to sustain ant colonies, and bursting to life as flowers and food. Seeds bring life to the most unlikely places, as we all know; anyone who’s seen leaves sprout from cracks in concrete can attest to that. We are part of the seed’s life cycle as the sowers and caretakers of seeds, reminding readers that we have a big responsibility to our planet. The narrative takes on a solemn note when Lemniscates notes that “we can plant many different kinds of seeds. A smile is a powerful seed… But there are also seeds that bring anger and misunderstanding. When those seeds grow, they pull us apart. Seeds can only bring what they carry.” Pretty powerful words that need repeating. Often.
Carme Lemniscates’ mixed media illustrations bring a crisp life to the illustrations, with browns and greens from nature sharing the space with brightly colored flowers and characters. A wonderful story about friendship and nature, and how we are bound to nature. Great for preschoolers and kindergarteners.
The Seedling That Didn’t Want to Grow, by Brita Tecktentrup, (March 2020, Prestel), $14.95, ISBN: 978-3-7913-7429-1
I never hide my love for Brita Teckentrup, and The Seedling That Didn’t Want to Grow is another hit for me. A seedling takes its time growing in a forest while all the other seeds sprout up around it. Forest friends Ladybird (I love that word) and Ant wait patiently, and when the seedling begins sprouting, Ant and Ladybird follow it along its path, with other forest creatures joining them along their way. The seedling sprouts into a bush full of blossoms, giving home to forest animals who live in her leaves, filling her with “love and life”, but Fall eventually comes, and the animals tearfully say goodbye. But Spring will come again, and with it, a new batch of seedlings, left by their friend.
An aching, unfussy story of friendship set within the nature cycle, The Seedling That Didn’t Want To Grow is filled with catch-your-breath moments: each friend guarding and guiding the seedling as it grows; the change in perspective to showcase the seedling at full growth, housing butterflies, bees, moths, and more; Little Mouse’s farewell… just gorgeous moments, made even more touching by the deep colors of nature and the collage-like feel of the artwork. This is definitely a book on my storytime shelf.