Review of A New Green Day

A New Green Day
by Antoinette Portis; illus. by the author
Preschool    Porter/Holiday    40 pp.
4/20    978-0-8234-4488-5    $18.99

In this exuberant celebration of a summer day, readers engage with compelling page-turns to solve simple nature riddles. “Morning lays me on your pillow,” the book opens, “square and warm. Come out and play!” Turn the page to see the source of that invitation, and thus the answer to the riddle, on the verso: a waking girl is greeted by a patch of morning light on her pillow, and the text reveals the speaker to be sunlight. The recto of each spread features one of these tantalizing invitations from a different element in nature; the verso of the next spread reveals who (snail, tadpole) or what (pebble, rain) is speaking. Portis (Wait, rev. 7/15; Hey, Water!, rev. 3/19) offers viewers a sensory experience; we hear a stream and a cricket, feel an inchworm on our finger, splash in the rain, and see lightning. Toes “taste” mud; a pebble is likened to “a candy sucked smooth in the river’s mouth.” The palette features the earth tones of nature with visually distinctive hand-stamped lettering. The use of leaf prints in the art grounds the story in the earth it celebrates. The story ends, naturally, with the shadows of night (“a black coat slipped around Earth’s shoulders” is but one example of the book’s vivid figurative language) and thrumming crickets. A playful, thoroughly captivating guessing game for young listeners.

From the May/June 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Julie Danielson
Julie Danielson
Julie Danielson writes about picture books at the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. She also writes for Kirkus Reviews and BookPage and is a lecturer for the School of Information Sciences graduate program at the University of Tennessee. Her book Wild Things!: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature, written with Betsy Bird and Peter D. Sieruta, was published in 2014.

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