‘and then it’s spring’ is a lovely tale written by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Erin E. Stead, winner of the Caldecott Medal for ‘A Sick Day for Amos McGee’. It is a tender story about the eager anticipation of the coming of springtime, with Stead’s unique and absolutely beautiful illustrations bringing it to life.
We follow the journey of a little boy, his dog, and a few other steadfast critter friends as they decide to conquer the monotone earthen landscape that follows the chilly winter. They wait, and they watch, and they worry for the little seeds that they have planted. Did the birds eat them? Or perhaps it was the bears that can’t read signs that stomped all over them? Week after week, and after some desperate hoping, they watch the brown turn to a ‘hopeful’ brown, and then finally change to the green of spring.
Patience is a virtue, but not an easy one to come by, especially when you’re younger. This story captures this perfectly, but also emphasizes the gratification that comes with waiting patiently and a little tender loving care.
The Writing of ‘and then it’s spring’
‘and then it’s spring’ is Julie Fogliano’s first published children’s book, but you would never know that when you read it. Her language is beautiful and poetic, simple and yet unique. At times the simplicity echoes as childlike, such as a sign that reads ‘please don’t stomp here. There are seeds and they are trying.’ And her words, in a way that is hard to describe, mimics the manner in which children think about something they anticipate greatly with thoughts that are short, but full of feeling.
In the same way she illustrated ‘A Sick Day for Amos Mcgee” Erin E. Stead uses woodblock printing techniques and pencil to bring each page to life. Her style matches the words and storyline perfectly, in the whimsy of the windswept land, the gentle characters she creates, and the different perspectives she draws. She also adds in those little side characters that don’t exactly call attention to themselves, but are a pleasant constant from page to page. In this book it is the tortoise, the little bird, and the bunny rabbit.
She is incredibly talented at not only creating beautiful works of art (for that is truly what her illustrations are), but also at enriching a story in an impressive manner. There can be only minimal words but her pictures are like a whole other language that layers everything fantastically and deepens the book to a level that many illustrations don’t. Hers don’t just support the storyline, they help make it.
This children’s book is suitable for just about any age. It is one that you would want to read quietly to your infant, one that a school age child would enjoy, and one that adults find charming as well.
Overall Feeling of ‘and then it’s spring’
This is a beautiful story. The combination of the illustrations and the language and rhythm in which it is written is stellar. It is different, but comforting, and about something that most all of us can relate to on some level, in some way. It speaks of patience, caring, and curiosity. Excitement, worry, and the pleasant feeling of finding what you have been waiting for has finally turned up. It is everything good that we want to show to our children, and everything we want to remember about the moments of quiet excitement we shared alone when we were children ourselves.