Rhymes, magic words, and gatefolds celebrate the transformations of spring.
“Sunshine warms a patch of snow. / Hocus-pocus! // Where did it go?” A mother rabbit with four kits snuggled beside her looks out at a snowy clearing; with the opening of the gatefold, the kits have woken up, the snow in front of their den has largely melted, and green shoots stipple the brown earth. In the next tableau, one of the shoots becomes a crocus watched over by a smiling mole. Pussy willows emerge, leaves appear, birds build nests and lay eggs, and fruit trees bloom. While at times O’Brien needs to stretch for her magic words and phrases (“alizebu” is quite obscure, and the negative connotations of “mumbo jumbo” are unfortunate), her rhymes and scansion never falter. Gal choreographs the progression smoothly, taking readers from early spring to the lushness of summer. The only sequential misstep is in taking the book back to early spring in the penultimate tableau with the discarding of winter boots—children who’ve seen the advancing spring phenomena in the preceding pages will have mentally stowed theirs much earlier. Gal combines charcoal and digital collage for a beautifully smudgy look, and details charm: on close inspection, a fly’s transparent wing displays a paisley pattern. The final tableau features a multiethnic group of children playing among all the “bright new things.”
Another lovely, if imperfect, book for the spring shelf. (Picture book. 2-5)