Getting Ready for Spring with Some Favorite Picture Books

This week in the Northeast US, we have had multiple days of above average temperatures, including one day in the high 70’s. We were able to get outside, play, complete some yard work, and generally enjoy pretending that Spring was already here. Even after a relatively mild winter here, we are ready for the flowers to begin blooming, the grass to peek up, and to wear much thinner coats.

So in preparation for actual Spring (in just 10 days!), today I am sharing some of our favorite books inspired by and about Spring. These books feature gardens, the sun, the outdoors, rain showers, rainbows, and Spring sports.

Grandpa GreenGrandpa Green- Lane Smith

A sweet tale of a man’s life told through the eyes of his great grandson throughout his lush and creative topiary garden. Check out our author profile of Lane Smith.

 

My GardenMy Garden – Kevin Henkes

A girl grows all kinds of unusual things in her garden.

 

 

 

Gossie

Gossie (and the other books in the Gossie series) – Oliver Dunrea

A totally adorable gosling has adventures (and sloshes around in his rain boots) with the other animals in his barnyard.

 

 

The Very Hungry CaterpillarThe Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle

This classic reminds us each Spring of the miracle of metamorphosis.

 

Hooray for Spring!Hurray for Spring! – Patricia Hubbell

A fun rhyming book about Spring.

 

 

 

Where Butterflies GrowWhere Butterflies Grow – Joanne Ryder

This beautifully illustrated book gives you a bugs-eye view into a garden where butterflies grow. Interested in more books about nature? Check out our previous blog post with other nature favorites.

 

Joy in MudvilleJoy in Mudville – Bob Raczyka

We learn what might have happened after the Mighty Casey struck out, and a unique girl named Joy is put in to pitch and save the day. We reviewed this book previously.

 

Some other Spring books we are looking forward to reading: Maple Syrup Season by Ann Purmell; Mud by Mary Lyn Ray and Lauren Stringer; and Listen to the Rain by Bill Martin Jr., John Archambault, and James Endicott.

What other Spring books are your favorites? Please share in the comments.

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Spring Has Finally Sprung

Here in the Northeast, we finally had a weekend worthy of being called Spring. The temperature was in the mid-70’s, it was mostly sunny, and the flowering trees decided it was time to bloom.

Magnolias

We spent as much time outside as possible- riding bikes and scooters, climbing trees, and even sneaking in a book while laying on a blanket. A visit from Grandma and Pa made it even more special.

Bike Riding

These are the weekends that lift my spirits and inspire me. Each spring I realize how much the winter weather has weighed on my mood, and how much I enjoy the fresh air and the warm sun on my skin.

Each Spring, nature begins again. Maybe last year the daffodils didn’t put on their best show, but this year could be different. Each Spring the Earth is given a new start and a fresh approach. So how can we not be inspired? This may be the 5th time we’ve worked on that first chapter. We may feel like there is no way to get that picture book right. But we must begin again. Maybe we need to let a story hibernate for a while, but then it’s time to start again with fresh new eyes and bold determination. And maybe, just maybe, this will be the revision that makes that chapter feel just right.

Photo by Katie Cullinan

Happy Easter and Welcome to Spring!

I find Easter and the beginning of Spring as a time of reflection, much more so than on New Year’s. In January, it is still cold and gray (and often we are knee-deep in snow), so it is hard to see the potential for the new year. For those of you who celebrate Easter (as I do), it is symbolic of rebirth, renewal, and joy. And if you’re lucky, the sun is peeking out more often and the temperates are gradually rising.

Photo by Katie Cullinan

There is promise in each day – a promise that what has incubated all winter under the snow and within ourselves is ready to blossom. You just need to look – are you ready to be brave? Take on that new challenge? Try something new? Take a bold step towards a new direction?

Best wishes for a restorative and peaceful Easter and Spring to all of you. Get out there and shake things up. What are you waiting for?

A March Madness Contest – The Three Little Easter Bunnies

Susanna Leonard Hill is again hosting another fabulous contest over on her blog. This time we have been challenged to write a 400 word story that is a twist on a fractured fairytale, with Spring somewhere in the mix.  Below is my entry. Happy Spring to all our readers!

THE THREE LITTLE EASTER BUNNIES

Three little bunnies were training to be Easter Bunnies. Their next task was to carry a basket full of colored eggs up a steep hill, and then hide the eggs in the bushes at the top. This might seem like an easy task for three little bunnies, but to get to the top of the hill they had to cross a bridge guarded by a mean troll.

The first bunny tiptoed across the bridge – tap, tip, tap. “Who is that tapping across my bridge?” the troll growled.

“Just me,” the first bunny said. “Please let me cross the bridge.”

“Only those who can answer a riddle can cross my bridge,” the troll said. “What is yellow in the middle, white all around, and colored all over?”

“An Easter egg!” the bunny replied, and hopped across the bridge.

The second bunny bounded across the bridge – boom, bam, boom. “Who is that booming across my bridge?” the troll growled.

“Another bunny,” the second bunny said.

“Only those who can answer a riddle can cross my bridge,” the troll said. “What looks like a bean, but tastes like sugar?”

“A jelly bean!” the bunny replied, and hopped across the bridge.

The third bunny bounced across the bridge – boing, bing, boing. “Who is that boinging across my bridge?” the troll growled.

“A little brown bunny,” said the third bunny.

“Only those who can answer a riddle can cross my bridge,” the troll said. “What is white, looks like a trumpet, and grows tall from the ground?”

The third bunny was stumped.

“Well?” shouted the troll.

“I don’t know,” the bunny said.

“Then I will have to eat you up!” the trolled yelled, using his gnarled hands to climb up the side of the bridge. When he got to the top, sitting in the middle of the bridge was a small brown bunny.

“I’ve got you now!” the troll shouted and he jumped on top of the bunny, knocking it to the ground. The brown bunny broke into pieces.

The troll picked up a piece and sniffed. It smelled sweet. He licked the piece, and it tasted sweet too.  “Bunnies are yummy!” he said as he ate up all of the bunny pieces.

High up on the hill, three bunnies giggled as they watched the troll eating the chocolate bunny. Then they hopped away through the Easter lilies to hide their eggs.

Easter Eggs

The Senses of Spring

BaseballSpring is a time of reawakening. New animal babies are born and buds pop out on the trees. I found that it is the time for my senses to reawaken, too.

At my son’s first baseball game of the season last night, I was acutely aware of the smell of the freshly cut grass while I watched the boys hold their caps over their hearts for the National Anthem. I could hear the boys laughing from the dugout, and the crack of the wooden bat successfully hitting the ball. My daughter was not watching the game, but was busily digging in the dirt next to the bleachers, bringing me handfuls of craggy, bumpy rocks. And we finished the evening off with a tasty celebratory frozen yogurt.

This inspired my idea for a writer’s exercise, or game to play with your kids (when you can’t possibly play another game of iSpy).

Family Version: At the park, on a car ride, at a sporting event, waiting for the doctor/dentist, taking a nature hike, or anywhere else you might be, challenge your family to describe where they are with all five senses. It may inspire some interesting conversations about WHY the doctor’s waiting room smells like bubble gum.

Writer’s Version: During similar situations as above, or sitting on the porch having a cup of coffee, or people watching at the mall (or wherever else you are), take out your journal and see if you can describe the environment with all five senses. Extra bonus points for the more descriptive and creative you are with your answers. This exercise also works as a “jump starter” for your writing day, or a break exercise when you are stuck while writing. Reflect back on a situation, and see what sensory descriptors you can conjure up. Don’t worry… even if “the smooth stickiness of peanut butter on the roof of my mouth” never makes it into any of your manuscripts, it WILL open your mind to the things that might pass by unnoticed.

Feel free to share your examples and what your senses revealed to you. Happy Spring!