Review of When Spring Comes

henkes_when spring comesstar2 When Spring Comes
by Kevin Henkes; 
illus. by Laura Dronzek
Preschool   Greenwillow   40 pp.
2/16   978-0-06-233139-7   $17.99
Library ed. 978-0-06-233140-3   $18.89

“Before Spring comes, / the trees look like / black sticks against the sky. // But if you wait, / Spring will bring / leaves and blossoms.” In a gently rhythmic text and lush, vibrant paintings, this husband-and-wife author-illustrator team (Birds, rev. 3/09) ushers in spring, capturing the season’s sights, sounds, and surprises. With emphasis at first on waiting, Henkes’s poetic text focuses on details in which young children delight: the last snowman melting slowly away “until suddenly — [it’s] gone”; April showers — mud, puddles, and all (“I hope you like umbrellas”); pussy willows and new kittens. Likewise, Dronzek’s illustrations show a child’s-eye view of the world (and those white kittens have to be litter-mates of Henkes’s first-full-moon-admiring one). Her palette is a celebration of springtime hues, from earth tones and soft pastels to bright primary and secondary colors. Single pages, double-page spreads, and a few time-lapse sequences are satisfyingly varied. The narrative follows spring’s fickle progress, including an unexpected snowfall that weighs down some hopeful daffodils. Several stylistic devices (repetition, alliteration, line breaks) help create mood, and the page design perfectly marries text and art. “When Spring is finally here to stay,” the text teases that we’re not done waiting: “Now, you have to wait for Summer.” The back endpapers show what’s in store. This joyful reflection is as welcome as spotting the first brave crocus.

From the March/April 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
Kitty Flynn
Kitty Flynn is consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.

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