A little girl uses all her senses to detect the signs of spring.
Sophie is a fair-skinned preschooler with a brown pageboy. She lives with her family in a prosperous-looking rural community in what looks like the author’s home state, Vermont. Hill’s accomplished gouache paintings depict leafless trees, snow-covered ground, and a big, comfortable red house. Fanciful touches, such as a parent bluebird impossibly cuddling a baby in a snow-covered birdhouse, will appeal to children even if they are not strictly accurate. Sophie wants to “know how spring is coming.” Her mother tells her to listen for bird song, and one day she hears “the first chirps.” Her dad tells her to feel for soft, muddy ground underfoot; it takes a while, but finally she does. Then she watches for the snow to melt and waits “for the air…to smell like earth and rain.” Each of these transformations takes its time, Hill varying layouts expertly to control the pace. Six vignettes of Sophie playing in the snow on one spread emphasize the passage of time; one full-bleed double-page spread stops it altogether. Together, words and pictures capture the feeling that spring will never come—and then it comes in a rush, trees leafing out in just the last few pages, when Sophie joyfully catches raindrops on her tongue: “this is what spring tastes like!”
Rural and suburban readers in northern climes will find much to recognize. (Picture book. 4-7)