Gerkman introduces young readers to a poem employing a variety of new springtime vocabulary words in this short but image-packed debut picture book.
Despite a lingering chill, spring begins bringing green back to the world—every “tree and hill”—as this volume opens. Showing a lovely image of pink cherry blossoms blowing onto a garden arbor and catching on fern fronds on the next page, the volume offers children first a look at the changing plants, and then at the assorted animals, that signify the spring season. Images of tadpoles, daffodils, tulips, and ducks should be familiar to residents of the Northern states. Then Gerkman, an accomplished illustrator, introduces a few rarer species: egrets and cormorants make their appearances, adding “their chorus to the mix.” After a wonderful list of sights and sounds in the natural world—and the man-made one, as the book mentions the smell of “fresh mown lawn”—the poem finishes on a note about the fleeting nature of the season: “Too soon, daylight hours will lengthen / And Spring will have gone.” Although the poetic nuances may go over the heads of young lap readers hearing the words aloud from their caretakers, the images are wonderfully sensory and accessible, whether it’s the quacks of ducks to their young or the smells of hyacinths and grass. Gerkman provides a glossary of some of the less familiar words at the end, although she omits words like “arbor” and “frond,” which, while depicted, are still likely to be unfamiliar to young readers and listeners. The illustrations throughout are a delight, particularly the wonderfully lifelike birds and detailed flowers. Children should gravitate to the tadpoles in the pond (decorated by the previous page’s cherry blossoms for a fun continuity), the ducklings, and the doe and her fawn, but adults will likely appreciate Gerkman’s efforts to achieve anatomical accuracy in rendering the smaller, active songbirds. The poem scans well, its rhythm never faltering under the sophisticated word choices.
Appealing illustrations and strong sensory descriptions make this volume a superb choice for a calm, nighttime lap read or a unit on the seasons for lower elementary school classes.