10 Great Books for Spring

March 25, 2013

Ten Great Books for Spring, Easter and Passover.

By Carter.

Is it spring yet where you are? I’m hearing rumors of East Coast snow and lying groundhogs! Seasons don’t really exist here in southern California — the days just turn from warm to hot without much fanfare. Good thing I have this pile of books to remember the wonder of spring!

1) And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano and Erin Stead is a comforting reminder that the browns of winter will yield to the glorious greens of spring. Caldecott winner Erin Stead crafts a subtle color palette that balances the spare and lyrical words. And note the tiny house on a hill in the background — it’s my favorite part of the storytelling illustrations!

2) What spring assortment of books would be complete without Peter Rabbit? Beatrix Potter’s timeless classic, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, is truly a masterpiece. Did you know that in addition to being a writer and illustrator she was a naturalist and conservatist? The garden setting of Peter Rabbit rang true to her heart — but Peter’s rebellion and endearing mischief will also remain the hallmark of this cautionary tale. Won’t you join me in a warm mug of chamomile tea to welcome spring and all its life?

3) The Longest Night, by Laurel Snyder and Catia Chen, is an epic Passover story — a retelling of the Exodus, straight from the Old Testament. It brings to life the birth of today’s traditions, with beautiful illustrations that wash over the lyrical words. The child’s point of view is striking, raw, and so easy to settle into. That perspective, along with the tandem dance of words and pictures, make this an unusually evocative look at this time of year.

4) I have a thing for fascinating endpapers, those colorful pages at the beginning and end of a book that frame the pages of the main story. Before I even got to the first words of An Egg is Quiet by Dianna Hutts Ashton and Sylvia Long, I was in love with this factual and utterly gorgeous book. This duo doesn’t stop at the obvious bird or dinosaur eggs — how about the tiniest lobster egg, the banana-shaped field cricket egg, or the very weird dogfish egg?

5) In 1943, Clare Turlay Newberry earned a Caldecott Honor for this small story about a bunny named MarshmallowIf you are searching online for a copy, be sure to find one with its original cover and story in tact! This gentle tale holds up beautifully — just a teeny ball of fur, Marshmallow adopts a big cat named Oliver as his mama. Understated art leaves plenty of room to breathe your own awe into the pages.

Ten Great Books for Spring, Easter and Passover.

6) Another lovely look at Passover through the lens of a picture book is Nachson, Who Was Afraid to Swim, by Deborah Bodin Cohen and Jago. Nachson and his family are slaves in Egypt, but he dreams of freedom and is mostly brave. Even the locusts don’t scare him! But Nachson is afraid of the water, and it’s only when he realizes that he can be a leader by stepping in first that he has to face that fear. I adore the color and texture of these illustrations — the golden yellows and oranges feel extra warm against the cool freedom of the water, and the gritty, sand-like texture is a strong reminder of place.

7) Do you know The Egg Tree by Katherine Milhous? Another Caldecott winner! I have the fondest memory of a well-loved, mylar-ripped, smudgy-stained copy of this circulating in my library years ago. It’s a beautiful study in Pennsylvania Dutch egg painting traditions and stunning folk art, bound and paged. And inside, new family traditions are discovered and celebrated.

8) I have some fuzzy snapshot memories of the pictures in The Country Bunny and The Little Gold Shoes, by Dubose Heyword and Marjorie Flack, but I can’t remember where I first saw this. The library maybe? Or my grandmother’s house? This striking book was first published in 1939, and its surprisingly strong feminist message of perseverance and kindness of heart still resonate today. This Country Bunny is a strong mama, balancing work and home and putting herself on the career path that had previously only been held by man bunnies! Delightful and wholly encouraging, and like the bookplate inside says: For someone kind, wise, and brave.

9) You might know Margaret Wise Brown from the nighttime favorite, Goodnight Moon. But do you know about The Golden Egg Book? A magical story unfolds on the pages — a tale of a curious little bunny and an unfamiliar egg, and the wonder of friendship and the unknown. When the bunny is plumb tuckered out and napping, the mysterious egg hatches and the curiosity begins all over again.

10) Jan Brett’s books have that charming, classic feel — and her voice and style are so immediately recognizable. The Easter Egg tells the story of Hoppi, who wants nothing more than to help the Easter Rabbit deliver his treasures on Easter morning. But when Hoppi finds a fallen robin’s egg, he fiercely protects it and might miss his chance. Have you ever noticed how her pictures tell stories separate from the words? Be sure to study the border art in this one!

Now, what did I miss? What are your family’s favorite springtime titles?

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 betsy March 25, 2013 at 7:47 am

This is a wonderful list! My favorite has been The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes. Eggs 1, 2, 3: Who Will the Babies Be? is another great book for Spring — though of course I’m a little biased since I’m the illustrator! http://www.amazon.com/Eggs-Who-Will-Babies-Be/dp/1609051912


2 Carter Higgins March 25, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Betsy, your book is gorgeous! Love the textures and colors on your illustrations!


3 betsy March 25, 2013 at 7:31 pm

Oh, thank you so much, Carter! You made my day!


4 Brandy March 25, 2013 at 8:52 am

I LOVE “An Egg is Quiet”! Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to get a child to stick with it for more than two pages. I think it is really an older child/adult coffee table book. Fantastic list; I am loving these book segments (especially nerding out over Oliver Jeffers).


5 Carter Higgins March 25, 2013 at 3:16 pm

Ha…good point. Some of those subtleties need an adult eye, but I love the back and forth you can play with the pages and see the before and afters!


6 Melissa@Julia's Bookbag March 25, 2013 at 9:01 am

What a beautiful list Carter! Two particular favorites of mine are ‘Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms’ by Julia Rawlinson and ‘How Robin Saved Spring’ by Debbie Ouellet and Nicoletta Ceccoli.


7 Carter Higgins March 25, 2013 at 3:15 pm

Oh, fantastic! I don’t know either of those!


8 Wendy Greenley March 25, 2013 at 10:07 am

I have never seen Marshmallow. Just looking at the soft pinky peach cover has me salivating.


9 brooke March 25, 2013 at 1:28 pm

love these suggestions! such a great way to usher in spring with my toddler son. thanks!!


10 Jenny March 25, 2013 at 2:09 pm

My kids love Eggs by Marilyn Singer and Make Way for Duckling. I don’t know if this is truly a spring book, but Joyful Noise by Paul Fleishmann is full of poems meant to be read aloud by 2 people and we love that book at Easter time.


11 Carter Higgins March 25, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Oh, yes! That sounds wonderful.


12 Monica March 25, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Great list. A new favorite is The Story of the Easter Bunny by Katherine Tegen.


13 Janssen March 25, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Step Gently Out! Oh, it’s so beautiful.


14 Carter Higgins March 25, 2013 at 3:19 pm

Oh, yes it is, yes it is. It got some Caldecott buzz this year…would maybe have been a first with the photography?!


15 Joanna March 25, 2013 at 3:36 pm

I love your “Ten Great” series, Carter. I am shocked to say I only know the first two!!


16 Design Mom March 25, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Marshmallow is the one I’m most excited about. That cover! And even though I’m a Caldecott lover, it’s new to me. Thank you for the great find!


17 Jen March 25, 2013 at 5:11 pm

The Easter Egg Farm is really cute! I just read it to my 2nd grade class today. It’s entertaining, and has a great message about valuing differences and being happy the way you are!


18 Margaret March 25, 2013 at 9:08 pm

Marshmallow is a favorite but of mine more so than my little one. We both love The Easter Egg Artists by Adrienne Adams. It’s a gem!


19 julie rowan zoch March 29, 2013 at 2:59 pm
20 Jenny March 29, 2013 at 8:42 pm

I would add Rechenka’s Eggs, by Patricia Polacco to this list. I remember my mom reading it to me as a child, and am excited to share the beautiful illustrations and story with my own kids.


21 dog games to play outside June 21, 2013 at 2:47 am

The game is safe for everyone to play and enjoy
in single player mode, alone or in group gatherings.
The mom teaches the puppy practically every thing the
puppy will require to survive on his very own but there arrives a day that
the pup will be separated from his mom and the relaxation of the litter and be taken to
your new property. You must do this repeateadly until
eventually you can stroll around your own house or garden without any kind of signs of troubles from your canine.


22 K Galgerud November 13, 2013 at 9:30 pm

I really appreciate that books about things such as the Passover were considered in this list, I’d just like to thank you, that was very thoughtful, not many consider such things at all. :) Maybe have to get a few for my daughter.


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