Here Comes Spring (Ready or Not!)
March 19, 2015 § 5 Comments
We’ve gotten our first tastes of spring: warm breezes, lighter evenings, and the sightings of crocuses poking up through the melting snow. My children could not be more different in their reactions to this seasonal transition. My eldest, never one to charge ahead into change—preferring the deep emotional connections he has worked so hard to foster in the here and now—wants to hold on tight to winter with both fists. “But I’m not ready to say goodbye to snow days,” JP bemoans each morning on his way out the door.
My four-year-old Emily, on the other hand, has never been one to look back, content to reside in a perpetual state of forward motion (ideally, one involving skipping and singing). The promise of spring is, to her, one of being unencumbered (“Mommy, WHEN can I stop wearing these heavy things?” she began saying back in November).
This push-and-pull dance between two different souls perched on the cusp of spring is so perfectly captured in Daniel Kirk’s newest picture book, The Thing About Spring (Ages 3-6), that it’s as if the book was written for our family. The coincidence would feel positively uncanny, if I hadn’t brought up our family’s scenario to a group of moms outside the kids’ school the other day and been told, that’s what it’s like in our house, too! It would seem that we are not alone; and Kirk has jumped squarely on this insight.
When The Thing About Spring opens, revealing a landscape of bare trees, melting snow, and a handful of new green shoots, we are introduced to an exuberant Mouse and Bird (enter my Emily). “The world looks a little different today…it smells different, too…and I feel warm…Spring is finally here. Hooray!” the two proclaim with wide smiles and puffed chests. The duo sets out to share their excitement with Rabbit (enter my JP), whom they find forlornly huddled over a bucket, trying to “save” as much snow as possible with his shovel.
As his friends attempt to point out the different merits of spring, Rabbit bah-humbugs away every one, offering a pessimistic retort of his own. Each of his eight diatribes begins with the phrase (cue increasing exasperation), “The thing about spring is…”
“The thing about spring,” said Rabbit, “is that I won’t be able to make snow bunnies anymore. I won’t be able to build snow forts, either. You know how much fun I have doing that!”
“But little shoots will grow out of the ground,” Mouse said, “so you won’t have to look far to find delicious things to eat.”
“The thing about spring,” said Rabbit, “is that it rains when you’re not expecting it!”
“But the rain brings out the flowers,” said Mouse.
“And the worms,” said Bird.
“The thing about spring,” said Rabbit, “is that all the animals chatter on and on, and the racket hurts my ears!”
“I’ll try to be more quiet,” whispered Bird.
“Me too,” whispered Mouse.
“Me three,” whispered Bear, “but it’s hard not to make a little noise…WHEN SPRING IS HERE!”
When it comes to reading aloud to children, there’s nothing more fun than friendly banter between opposing personalities (remember this? and this?). Grumpiness is pretty funny, too. And, yes, halfway through sharing this story with my kids the first time, I asked them, “Does Rabbit remind you of anyone?” And my son and daughter both responded without hesitation, “Me/JP!” Because it was that obvious.
In the end, Bunny realizes that he is outmatched—not just by his friends, but by Mother Nature herself. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. All this pontificating in the warm spring sun has made the animals thirsty, and Rabbit is the first to point out that the melting snow in his bucket has turned to water. “The thing about spring is that it’s full of surprises,” he relents, with an ever-widening grin on his face. The animals then use fallen acorn shells to toast the new season.
And just like that, JP, too, seems won over. After two hours at the park after school this week, where he and his sister worked alongside their classmates to create a “fairy house” out of mud, sticks, and garbage (a fairy-themed post is coming, don’t you worry), he returned home flushed and chattering on about his Big Plans. “Is it OK if I stay out in the yard for awhile and you can let me know when dinner is ready? I’ve got a lot to do, and it’s still so beautiful out!”
Yup, that will do. That will do just fine.
Other Favorite Picture Books About Spring’s Arrival:
Finding Spring, by Carin Berger (Ages 2-6; please, please treat yourself to this other new 2015 book filled with STUNNING paper collages and a darling bear who is a little premature in his enthusiasm about spring’s coming)
And Then It’s Spring, by Julie Fogliano & Erin E. Stead (Ages 3-6; reviewed by me in 2012 here)
Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms, by Julia Rawlinson & Tiphanie Beeke (Ages 3-6)
Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit: A Book of Changing Seasons, by Il Sung Na (Ages 3-6)
It’s Spring! by Linda Glaser & Susan Swan (Ages 4-8)
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