Books for Easter have less sugar and last longer than candy. These lively tales capture the magic of Easter and all things springtime.
"Tucker Digs Easter" by Leslie McGuirk; Candlewick Press; 28 pages; $7.99.
Though Leslie McGuirk's Easter dog tale is a board book, it reads as a complete picture book story. Tucker, the little white dog, loves digging holes and is spotted and hired by the Easter Bunny for his talents. When the pair sets out to hide eggs in a field the night before Easter, Tucker dons fake bunny ears in case he's spotted. He does such a good job digging, in fact, that the children are perplexed and don't have much luck finding the eggs the next morning.
The Easter Bunny comes up with a plan and asks the energetic Tucker to dig the eggs back up so the children can find the eggs more easily. Easter Bunny then rewards Tucker with his own basket of treats. Preschoolers will enjoy the satisfactory outcome about working hard and achieving a fun goal.
McGuirk's humorous, whimsical illustrations are full of personality and spunk.
"Spring Hare" by Eugene Yelchin; Henry Holt; 30 pages; $16.99.
It's not every day a flying bunny soars through the sky past an airplane and a spaceship, but in Eugene Yelchin's wordless gem, this seems doable. The wide-eyed baby bunny begins on a trampoline with a girl. He catapults sky-high with geese, bumps into a hot air balloon and zips through space, grabbing a star and heading back down to Earth, where the girl catches him on the trampoline.
Really cool oil pastels and colored pencils on cut paper give a layered look to the adventurous illustrations. Kids will enjoy the friendship aspect of the imaginative tale. There's no Easter in this book, but it sings springtime for certain.
"Bunny Bus" by Ammi-Joan Paquette; illustrated by Lesley Breen Withrow; Farrar Straus Giroux; 32 pages; $16.99.
Succinct rhyming and Richard Scarry-like characters make "Bunny Bus" an appealing, fun read-aloud about all kinds of animals riding a white bus with a friendly bunny face.
The sing-songy text reads: "Room for more? Of course! Pile on! The Bunny Bus rolls on and on" as a raccoon, pig, cat and owl all donned in fashionable, detailed clothing, board the bus with the buck-toothed bunny face. A brief breakdown adds some drama, but soon the bevy of friends give the bus an overhaul and make it in time to the Easter parade.
"Bunny Bus" is a sweet tale with appealingly fun pictures, and colorful striped endpapers with egg shapes add a pop art element.
"Rain" by Sam Usher; Templar Books/Candlewick; 34 pages; $16.99.
I knew this book was going to be intriguing upon seeing the textural raindrops peppering the bluesy cover. Inside is a cozy story of a boy who's itching to go out and play in the rain with his granddad, but the older man wants to wait until the rain stops. The boy keeps waiting, and though he wants to "go on a voyage with sea monsters," Granddad still wants to wait. Ever impatient, the boy then wants to "visit the floating city with acrobats and carnivals and boatmen." Finally, Grandad says: "Quick! Let's go — I need to get this in the mail!"
With the rain stopped, the pair finds their adventure: A toy boat turns into a gondola, and the floating city comes to life. A cozy ending with warm socks and hot chocolate make it certain that "the very best things are always worth waiting for."
"Rain" is a beautiful follow-up to Sam Usher's "Snow" and a true winner.
"Cheep! Cheep!" by Sebastien Braun, published by Nosy Crow/Candlewick, is one of the "Can You See It, Too?" series of interactive board books perfect for tots just starting to talk. This one has lots of sturdy flaps to life and is peppered with flowers and spring animals.
Also from Nosy Crow is "Hush-A-Bye Bunny" by Holly Surplice, a rhyming bedtime board book with pastel colors starring Mommy Bunny and little bunny getting ready for bed.
"How to Catch the Easter Bunny" by Adam Wallace and Andy Elkerton, whichi s published by SourceBooks Jabberwocky, is a poetic, lively, vivid romp starring a high-energy traveling Easter Bunny.
"Fancy Nancy and the Missing Easter Bunny," written by Jane O'Connor, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser and published by HarperFestival, offers over 30 stickers in a friend-filled tale about a missing bunny.
To find out more about Lee Littlewood, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.