Continuing with the seasonal theme, Stead teams up with first-time picture book author Julie Fogliano for a gentle look at one little bespectacled boy and his garden. It’s a dear story of perseverance and patience, seeds and sun, and rain and cold. But, mostly it’s about brown and green. We are learning to anticipate and appreciate the loving details that make up the illustrations, and the care Ms. Stead takes with her unusual woodcut-and-pencil technique.
The fun surprises: the sign that says “please do not stomp here; there are seeds and they are trying” and the little animal friends who arrive little by little (first the turtle, dog, bunnies and birds, then the bear (the bear!?) and the ants and the mice, and the tender gestures of each of those animals, even the mice with their tales entwined in love. Readers will love following all of those stories–I have seen kids just watch the dog on each page, dipping their head as he (along with the boy in the story) does. Notice how the body movement of the boy is reflected in all of the little creatures. Then, just read the story for color. From the first brown to the hopeful brown to the lightening brown, we get to feel that s-l-o-w passage of time from seed sowing to germination, and see it in those tiny patches of green that turn into the final glorious spread of green, “all around you have green.”
Perfect details. A heartfelt story. Unusual use of color. Stead vs. Stead. I would hate to have to choose.