Friday, April 6, 2012

Stories for the Spring Season

The sun rose at 6:37 and it will set at 7:47.

There were blue skies, it's Friday afternoon, sun streaks across the floor where the cat has taken up residence.

It's Good Friday and it's a good time to find the stash of rabbits and Easter books. I've never been a fan of sweet books or books about holidays that are too simplistic. Or books that were published just because SOMEone would buy them because they were new and they just wanted a basic holiday book with cute pictures. Or books that are particularly Christian.

I kind of like the ones that are maybe a little creepy or the illustrations are not particularly aimed at children. You'll see there's a copy of Jan Brett's Easter Egg in this collection-pretty standard fare for an Easter book. Her art is cute, her story's about a bunny and an Easter egg, but the story and the art are so much more than that.

Hoppi, our hero is decorating his first egg ever for the big contest.

The bunny whose egg wins gets to help the Easter Bunny deliver all the eggs on Easter morning. While he wanders through the day, talking to the other bunnies about their different kinds of eggs, he tries to decide what he will do with his.

Along the way, he finds a distraught mama bird; one of her three eggs has fallen to the ground! Hoppi settles his soft fur over the egg to keep it warm and he and mama bird settle in for the night.

In the morning, the Easter Rabbit shows up in his hen drawn carriage and looks at all the beautiful eggs. He notices that one very special egg is not in the collection. He disappears into the woods and comes back with Hoppi and Mother Robin's empty blue shell the baby bird hatched out of. The most special egg of all! And Hoppi gets to ride with the Easter Rabbit to deliver all the eggs.

The story is fine but the art is amazing. It is full of all the harbingers of spring: robins, new ferns, violets, forget-me-knots, bunnies, and babies. It also has as many different breeds of rabbits as there are characters. There is so much to look at and investigate, so many different plants and animals to at throughout, you could read this book to your kids all year long and still see new things every time.

My other favorite Eastery books are Bunny Days, by Tao Nyeu (especially the scene where mama bunny washes the muddy babies in the washing machine and then hangs them outside to dry on the line). I love the simple, bold line drawings with the pastel color palette. It's an interesting palette for such brutal happenings in the rabbit family. I love how Mrs. Goat vacuums up all the bunnies, right out of their burrows.

To Rabbittown, by April Halprin Wayland, illustrated by Robin Spowart, a dreamy poem about a little girl who wants to know what it's like to live with the rabbits until she gets lonesome for home. Soft artwork with no outlines makes the whole story airy and quiet.

And then there's Margaret Wise Brown's classic, The Golden Egg Book, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard.

The story is fairly simple: Lonely Bunny finds an egg but he doesn't know what's inside. He throws nuts at it and jumps on top but nothing comes out. Eventually, he falls asleep and the egg hatches!

The little duck who thought he was all alone inside the egg, is happy to find a friend, but bunny won't wake up so he throws nuts at him and rolls him down the hill and he wakes up! Where's the egg? The little duck tells him not to worry, he's there, and off they go together, neither one lonely anymore.

I LOVE Weisgard's artwork. It's detailed and simple and there is so much to look at. This book is also filled with springtime nature pictures, too. Trillium and butterflies, pansies and mice. It's great for sharing with slightly older children who won't ask too many questions about why they are throwing things at each other and rolling one another down the hill.

(No remuneration resulted as a result of this post.)

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