Not all surprises are welcome.
Almost every line in this picture book includes an unexpected word or two. The first sentence begins: “When we look out the window / at trees dressed in browns.” In a prose story, that might have been a pleasant alternative to “leaves changing color” or “turning brown,” but it feels shoehorned into this book to rhyme with “and smile to imagine their leafy green gowns.” The rest of the poem is just as contrived. It’s possible that the (presumably North American) protagonists’ family members in Israel really would “send pictures of bees,” but it’s more likely the bees are there in order to rhyme with the “pink almond trees” on the next page. The book does, however, effectively sum up the theme of the Jewish holiday celebrating the oncoming spring: We love trees! It even works in a welcome, fitting environmental message (though “recycle, reduce, and reuse” is awkwardly rhymed with “help spread the news”). The pictures are charmingly old-fashioned. They come from the mid-20th-century M. Sasek school of illustration, with bright colors and no black outlines drawn around the characters. Most of the characters are white and part of the same family, but two darker-skinned friends of the children show up near the end of the book to help plant trees.
This book is the rare one that might benefit from fewer bold choices of words. (Picture book. 4-8)