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And Then It’s Spring

and then it's spring

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.


Robin Smith About Robin Smith

Robin Smith is a second-grade teacher at the Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee. She is a reviewer for Kirkus and The Horn Book Magazine and has served on multiple award committees.



  1. LOVED this story. The way they conveyed spring gently creeping in? Really wonderful.

  2. Lolly Robinson Lolly Robinson says:

    This book has really grown on me (so to speak). With all of the great high-energy, humorous, brightly-colored books out there, I’m so happy to see young illustrators doing books like this. There will always be patient, quiet kids out there who will gravitate toward Erin Stead, Elisha Cooper, and their ilk.

  3. Megan Lambert says:

    On Tuesday my Picture Book course in the Simmons at The Carle program had its final class meeting at my house. I facilitated a Mock Caldecott discussion over a potluck dinner, and my ten students ended up selecting this book as an Honor title. I was dee-lighted since this is a favorite of mine, and my fingers are crossed that Erin Stead will be getting a phone call in January from the real Caldecott Committee…

  4. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    I love hearing this, Megan. What other books did they honor? We are going to talk about as many books as we can before balloting and voting and would love to have suggestions.

  5. Megan Lambert says:

    Extra Yarn was the Medal winner (by a wide margin) in my class’s Mock Caldecott voting.

    Then, in addition to honoring And Then It’s Spring, the students also gave honors to Red Knit Cap Girl and to Unspoken.

  6. I like this book a lot, for all the things that have been said about it… but I had a sort of nitpick about the brown, brown, brown, GREEN! aspect of it. Poetically, yes, it can seem like spring appears overnight. But for me, the pacing was a little off — there should have been one more spread of brown-turning-to-green between the seedlings and the full-on green spring. I’m probably being too practical.

  7. Robin Smith says:

    Actually, TK, you are not the only one to mention that pacing. Wonder what the committee will find? That’s what I always think about. I remember all the little details fellow committee members found about each book we examined. Once in a while, I was the one to notice something new and that was thrilling.

  8. Robin Smith says:

    But, isn’t that how Spring is? All of a sudden: trees are budding, grass is greening, the air is warm! Especially for folks in the north, the mud season lingers and lingers until POW! it’s green spring.

  9. If only more publishers would dare to publish books like this. I am glad Neal Porter has some sense in a world where stories are frequently rejected by publishers simply for being “too quiet.” I’m pretty sure young illustrators are not to blame for the lack of softer stories out there. Erin was very lucky to find the right people to trust her to do it on her first book.

  10. We held a Mock Caldecott for our Youth Services Librarians and selected One Cool Friend as our clear winner, with honors for Oh No! and Step Gently Out. We also had a very enthusiastic discussion about all the little details in And Then It’s Spring -it seemed like every page was someone’s favorite.

  11. Bill Wright says:

    Anyone else notice how the plants move about relative to each other and the landscape from picture to picture, and how even the landscape itself doesn’t stay the same…sometimes it is perfectly flat, other times a gentle hill. Read the book, liked it, but just had the feeling that something was…off.

  12. J. Vowell says:

    Will it matter that the bear in And Then It’s Spring and Bear Has a Story to Tell are so similar – especially when he is standing with his hand raised-it almost looks as if that page could have been inserted into either story?

  13. Well, they can talk about it if they wish to since both books came out the same year. It will be up to the committee to decide how they feel.
    I am not sure what Lolly thinks about this, but that is what I think…

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