Here comes the sun, along with an excellent crop of new picture books to read in the warmth of its rays.
Mr. King's Machine, by Geneviève Côté
About the book: When Mr. King the cat discovers that one of the pretty flowers near his home has been chewed by a caterpillar, he is NOT happy. He decides to build himself a Caterpillar-Catcher to track down the culprit who did it. “VOOM! VOOM! VOOM!” But as he speeds up and down the hillsides, Mr. King doesn't notice that the Caterpillar-Catcher is spewing nasty smoke into the air and knocking down the other pretty flowers in his path. Now it's his animal friends who are NOT happy. They explain to Mr. King that his machine is making things worse, not better. And why chase a caterpillar anyway? Caterpillars turn into butterflies, and butterflies help the flowers to grow! Will Mr. King be able to turn things around so everyone will be happy again?
Why it's a perfect book for spring: This is the third book in Côte's Mr. King series, each one with an environmental slant. And this one celebrates butterflies, pollinators, and growing gardens by planting seeds—you don't get more seasonal than that.
Tokyo Digs a Garden, by Jon-Erik Lappano and Kellen Hatanaka
About the book: Tokyo lives in a small house between giant buildings with his family and his cat, Kevin. For years, highways and skyscrapers have been built up around the family’s house where once there were hills and trees. Will they ever experience the natural world again?
One day, an old woman offers Tokyo seeds, telling him they will grow into whatever he wishes. Tokyo and his grandfather are astonished when the seeds grow into a forest so lush that it takes over the entire city overnight. Soon the whole city has gone wild, with animals roaming where cars once drove. But is this a problem to be surmounted, or a new way of living to be embraced?
Why it's a perfect book for spring: Here's another book about a garden, and if gardens themselves weren't magical enough, Lappano has his story take a fantastic turn as Tokyo's seeds grow a wild garden that takes over the city. And all of a sudden, wildness is everywhere (as fantastically rendered by Hatanaka: a sloth in the elevator!) and it's up to the people to learn to live with it.
The Not-So-Faraway Adventure, by Andrew Larsen and Irene Luxbacher
About the book: “Theo's Poppa was an explorer. He had been everywhere. He kept an old trunk packed with the pictures, postcards, maps and menus that he had collected on his adventures.” Someday, Theo wants to be an explorer, too. For now, it's Poppa's birthday, and Theo has planned a special trip to the beach with him to celebrate. They plot out their course on a map they've drawn and then take the streetcar to the local beach, where they stroll in the sand, hunt for stones and slurp gazpacho at the beachside restaurant. It's a perfect day, and Theo is so happy to have given Poppa just the right gift. But best of all, Theo has also had her first lesson in being an explorer: you don't have to travel far from home to have an adventure!
Why it's a perfect book for spring: Floral motifs are a feature of Luxbacher's illustrations, and this title is no exception, the streetscapes displaying a city in full bloom. The story also celebrates getting out into the world in a way that only seems possible once winter is through. And BONUS: for a another spring book, check out The Imaginary Garden, another story of Theo and her Poppa.
You Are One, by Sara O'Leary and Karen Klassen
About the book: A baby’s first year is full of memorable milestones. Learning to crawl, taking first steps, tasting new foods, and forming first words are all exciting achievements. You Are One looks back on each of these universal moments and more, inviting little ones and their parents to celebrate how much they have grown and discovered in just one year, from playing peekaboo to first teeth.
Why it's a perfect book for spring: Because spring is all about new life and celebrating things that grow, each of these things embodied in the miracle of a one-year-old. And it makes an excellent gift for all those spring babies!
My Heart Fills With Happiness, by Monique Gray Smith and Julie Flett
About the book: The sun on your face. The smell of warm bannock baking in the oven. Holding the hand of someone you love. What fills your heart with happiness? This beautiful board book, with illustrations from celebrated artist Julie Flett, serves as a reminder for little ones and adults alike to reflect on and cherish the moments in life that bring us joy.
Why it's an amazing book for spring: It's the flowers and butterflies all over again, and oh that golden yellow, the sunshine. Spring is here and never has a book title been more apropos.
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