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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Spring Books

Dirt, butterflies, flora, and native stories make this spring book list.

Book Cover Roslyn Rutabaga

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.


Dirt, butterflies, flora, and native stories make this spring book list.

In Roslyn Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on the Earth, by Marie-Louise Gay, Roslyn wants to dig a hole to the South Pole to meet a penguin or two. Instead she encounters a worm, a mole, and a dog, upset with her for digging up his bone-cupboard. (Roslyn thinks she's found a triceratops' toe-bone.) All the creatures Roslyn meets try to dissuade her from her quest, except her father who joins her with a picnic lunch. Gay's humour and understanding of young readers is perfectly rendered through dialogue and playful illustrations. Age 3+

Bye Bye Butterflies

Bye, Bye, Butterflies!, by Andrew Larsen, has just the right amount of text for the age 4+ crowd. Besides being a story about how to hatch monarchs, it's about a father and son being quiet enough to witness a special moment. Endearing big-eyed characters are illustrated by Jacqueline Hudon-Verrelli with a splendid full-circle ending by Larsen. Included is a kid-friendly facts page about butterflies, i.e. the monarch life cycle and how to tell a moth from a butterfly.

The Reason for a Flower

The Reason for a Flower, by Ruth Heller, is a non-fiction picture book with the feel of a botanist's journal. Rhyming text inventively weaves its way around detailed pictures of flora, revealing the reason for a flower early on: to manufacture seeds. Each page illustrates concepts such as how pollen travels, what a seed can become, and which animals eat seeds. Also portrayed are strange carnivorous plants, the largest flower (15 pounds), the pre-historic magnolia, and (some surprising) products that come from flowers.

Book Cover Picture a Tree

Picture a Tree, by Barbara Reid, explodes with foliage. "There is more than one way to picture a tree," the book begins. Each page cleverly invites the readers to make connections. For example, the reader may see "..a game of dress-up," when looking at four treetops similar to the hairstyles of people at the bus stop. Reid's trademark plasticine pictures touch upon the ages and stages, seasons and reasons for a tree, i.e. sun umbrellas on a hot day or snow(suit) laden in winter. Age 3+

Book Cover First Spring

First Spring: an Innu tale of North America, by Remi Savard and Catherine Germain, takes place in the time when animals and humans travelled together, knowing only of winter. One of their young ones is abandoned because he has lice and, Mistapeo, the Great Spirit, helps him catch up with his community. To recompense, the boy's family must catch the summer birds. A host of interesting creatures help with their quest, including Giant Beaver, who's self-conscious about his farting problem. This is a shortened version of an epic story performed as early as the 19th Century, the afterword explains. Large watercolour pictures by Genevieve Côte, with a lot of text make this appropriate for age 7+.

Book Cover The Spring Celebration

In The Spring Celebration, by Tina Umpherville, illustrated by Christie Rice, Iskotew lives in Brochet, a northern village that has long hard winters. Iskotew means “little fire” in Cree. The spunky redhead is excited for the first warm day, when her community loads up wooden sleds and crosses the crackling ice to an island. There, Iskotew and her friends wrestle, climb trees and pick berries while their families cook fish, caribou and make bannock. A sweet snapshot of an annual northern spring ritual for ages 5+.

On her first day as teacher-librarian, Julie Booker was asked by a five-year-old if that was her real name. She's felt at home in libraries since her inaugural job as a Page in the Toronto Public Library. She is the author of the acclaimed short story collection, Up Up Up.

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