After a cold, snowy, wet winter, it's time to open the windows, breathe deep and inhale some springtime with these new picture books.
"Spectacular Spring" by Bruce Goldstone; Henry Holt and Co., 48 pages; $17.99.
This book is a refreshing introduction to all that spring offers. Bruce Goldstone prepares young readers with vivid photographs, lively explanations and creative craft ideas. First, he explains how days get long and nights get shorter, and why. Next up, "Days begin to get warmer," which shows the transition from sweaters and gloves to raincoats and umbrellas. He explains with clear, close-up photos how umbrellas work, why we see rainbows, how so many colorful flowers start growing and the miracle of new baby animals and hatching birds.
Each page spread features numerous pictures and sparse large text. Spring holidays are introduced, as are special activities and crafts like hand lamps and seed jars.
As an all-encompassing journey from the cold of winter to the outdoor joys of springtime, "Spectacular Spring" feels like a healthy reawakening.
"I'm a Duck" by Eve Bunting; illustrated by Will Hillenbrand; Candlewick Press; 32 pages; $15.99.
With gentle, muted colors and friendly rhyming refrains, Eve Bunting's sweet tale of a timid duckling afraid to go in the pond will resonate with young children. The duckling thinks, "I cannot swim, and that is bad. A landlocked duck is very sad." But a wise owl tries to cheer him up — "Too-wit, too-woo! Think about what you can do. You're a duck. Use common sense and try to get some confidence."
Duckling summons the courage to practice in puddles and, with the verbal help of his mother and a frog, finally takes the plunge, realizing, "I was wrong to ever think, a well-made duck like me could sink."
Charming as can be, "I'm a Duck" should win a place on every preschooler's bookshelf.
"Splish, Splash, Ducky!" by Lucy Cousins; Candlewick Press; 28 pages; $16.99.
Another ode to ducks, this one, from iconic "Maisy" creator Lucy Cousins, stars a loud, quacking duckling amidst Cousins' signature bold, colorful, childlike illustrations. Tots will have a silly blast reciting the rhyming text and the "Quack, quack, quack!" on every page spread. A real joyfest, the hilarity and zesty romp of bright birds and butterflies and flowers throughout is almost a psychedelic burst of springtime energy.
"A Peaceful Garden" by Lucy London; pictures by Christa Pierce; HarperCollins; 32 pages; $17.99.
Any book starring cats is A-OK by me. This sweet tale introduces two lovely little cats that grow a peaceful garden and work together to make it kind and healthy. First, they start by choosing seeds, saying, "Lasy peasy peas? They'll need a wee pea fence," and asking, "Bees love daisies. So do butterflies. Would you like to invite some blackbirds?" The cats offer cool garden tips, saying: "You could also fill up a little saucer for the bees," and "A few rocks will help them to not fall in," and "Don't forget what is where! Small signs are good."
With basic child-friendly gardening tips; fresh, sunny art; friendly cats and bunnies; and an emphasis on the joy of growth, "A Peaceful Garden" is truly precious.
"When Spring Comes" by Kevin Henkes; illustrated by Laura Dronzek; Greenwillow Books; 34 pages; $7.99.
The board book edition of Kevin Henkes' joyful spring tale emphasizes the joy of patience and waiting for all that springtime offers, from puddles and umbrellas, to new kittens and "buds and bees and boots and bubbles." Simple but joyous and mellow at the same time, "When Spring Comes" is a luscious ode to season appreciation.
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.