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Noticing nature’s cycles

These picture books invite readers to reflect upon the cycles of our environment (i.e., weather patterns, seasons) and to pay close attention to marvels of the natural world.

In They Say Blue by Jillian Tamaki, a girl considers the wondrousness of the world around her, prompted by the colors she encounters throughout her day. The text moves effortlessly between prosaic description and poetic contemplation, making of color something both familiar and extraordinary. Tamaki’s rich acrylic paintings combine scratchy ink line work with watery brushstrokes, establishing a visual tension that echoes this paradoxical sense of things being just at hand yet frequently astonishing. (Abrams, 5–8 years)

“We have such a strong connection to weather, we can’t help but wonder about it.” Britta Teckentrup’s words and illustrations for Look at the Weather (translated and adapted by Shelley Tanaka) embody this connection, modeling curiosity and wonderment. Moody, textured images play with the relationships among art, nature, and light to explore the nuances of weather phenomena. The details encourage both careful, continuous observation and appreciation for the endless varieties of weather. (Owlkids, 5–8 years)

Quiet by Tomie dePaola features a grandfather, a girl, a boy, and their dog observing the busyness of the natural world around them. The grandfather proposes a rest on a nearby bench. All becomes calm, and the children note the value of being quiet and still. Soft pastel shades, long gentle contours, and plenty of white space create a properly serene world to take in. (Simon, 3–7 years)

Kevin Henkes and Laura Dronzek’s third picture book about the seasons, Winter Is Here, is a lyrical ode to winter’s many moods. Henkes’s text, marked by a gentle rhythm, uses descriptive language to bring the season to vivid life. Dronzek’s expressive acrylics depict families enjoying the outdoors. Spot art occasionally accelerates the action, but expressive full-bleed spreads steal the show, especially at the book’s close when winter “shrinks away bit by bit” and glorious, full-color spring arrives. (Greenwillow, 3–7 years)

From the November 2018 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

Elissa Gershowitz About Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College and a BA from Oberlin College.

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