Review posted October 31, 2012.
A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, 2012. 32 pages.
As you would expect from Caldecott-winning illustrator Erin Stead, this book is beautiful. This isn't so much a book for storytime (though it would work for that if the kids could sit up close to see the pictures and the details) as it is a meditative book for sitting with a child in your lap and looking slowly and enjoying the pictures.
This is a book about time passing, specifically the time when winter is finishing up, and you're waiting for Spring. It's not particularly a book for southern California (where I grew up), but it's lovely for more northern climes.
First you have brown,
all around you have brown.
The bundled up boy and dog and turtle (even the turtle has a stocking cap at first!) plant some seeds. They wait and wait. They shed some wraps. It's amazing how many different scenes Erin Stead makes out of that premise. And the poetry of the lines has its own music.
One page I especially like is:
or maybe it was the bears and all that stomping,
because bears can't read signs
that say things like
"please do not stomp here --
there are seeds
and they are trying."
On that page, three bears are in among the plantings, and one bear is scratching himself with the described sign.
On another page, we see creatures that have made tunnels inside the earth as we look at a cross-section, with the boy and a rabbit with their ear to the ground and the dog and the turtle looking at a creature coming out of a tunnel.
and the brown,
has a greenish hum
that you can only hear
if you put your ear to the ground
and close your eyes"
But don't worry! Spring does come.
but the brown isn't around
and now you have green,
This book has grown on me. The first time I read it, I leafed through it too quickly. This is a book for poring over, for reading again and again, and for sharing with a child.