Flowers are popping up, and the birds are chirping, which means the spring holidays are just around the corner. While sweet treats abound, toss a new book or two into the mix, and watch the kids hop into your lap for some cuddle time.
New & Noteworthy
By Betseygail Rand and Colleen Rand, Illustrated by C.S.W. Rand; Tricycle Press, $14.99, ages 3-5
Big Bunny is much bigger than all the other Easter bunnies. While the little bunnies are weaving baskets and painting eggs to prepare for Easter, clumsy Big Bunny keeps breaking everything. Feeling down, she runs (or hops) away. The little bunnies miss her terribly and look everywhere for her. When they finally find Big Bunny, they create a giant Easter basket that straps onto her back. All of the bunnies hop in and travel through the night in Big Bunny’s basket, hiding eggs for boys and girls all over the world. This Easter-basket-worthy book is very sweet, but be prepared to answer the question “Isn’t there just one Easter Bunny?”
How Robin Saved Spring
By Debbie Ouellet, Illustrated by Nicoletta Ceccoli; Henry Holt and Company, $16.95, ages 4-8
Lady Winter and Sister Spring are sisters who sleep during each other’s season. When the time comes for Lady Winter to wake her sister so she can bring spring to the world, she decides to cast a spell that leaves Sister Spring asleep instead. A small robin, appropriately named Robin, sees what’s happening and rallies all the forest creatures to try to wake Sister Spring. Each animal sneaks into her house, but Lady Winter casts a spell on each to stop them. Robin’s last hope is to go see Mother Sun and ask her to shine some bright morning light. This does the trick and Sister Spring wakes the Earth and animals, breaking all of Lady Winter’s spells and restoring magnificent color and life. Since bunnies and chicks get most of the starring roles in spring books, a story that makes a robin the “hero” is a refreshing change. This one is on the long side, making it best for the kindergarten age and older.
The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah
By Leslie Kimmelman, Illustrated by Paul Meisel; Holiday House, $6.99-16.95, ages 4-8
Little Red Hen looks forward to Passover each year. In fact, she likes to make her own matzah, using home-grown wheat. Several months before Passover begins, she asks her friends, Sheep, Horse and Dog, to help with planting, harvesting and other related chores but they repeatedly refuse to help. Of course, come the first night of Passover, her friends show up at her house ready to eat. Though she is tempted to let them starve, she remembers a quote from her Passover Haggadah, “Let all who are hungry come and eat,” and invites them in. In a witty twist at the end, guess who Little Red Hen successfully recruits to wash all the dishes? A fun story, colorful illustrations, and easy-to-understand explanations of Passover traditions and beliefs, make this book a great way to learn the basics about a Seder. The author includes a note to parents with more Passover history, a glossary of common Yiddish terms, and even a recipe for making your own matzah.
Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit: A Book of Changing Seasons
Written and Illustrated by Il Sung Na; Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $17.99, ages 1-5
Spring brings about so many marvelous changes in nature. This new book features unique and colorful illustrations that are sure to captivate a toddler’s attention. Preschoolers will enjoy learning which animals hibernate during the winter, which critters head to warmer climates and which ones adapt to remain right where they are. This is a great story for cuddling close with the little ones at bedtime.
“Faves” from the Bookcase
Easter Crack-Ups: Knock-Knock Jokes Funny-Side Up
By Katy Hall & Lisa Eisenberg, Illustrated by Stephen Carpenter; HarperFestival, $6.99, ages 5-8
Knock-knock jokes are a childhood rite of passage. This collection of Easter egg-themed jokes will have both children and adults chuckling. Many of the punch lines are cleverly hidden under flaps that also reveal engaging illustrations. The text is easy for beginning readers and the book is perfectly sized for Easter baskets.
The Golden Egg
Written and Illustrated by Maggie Kneen; Chronicle Books, $14.95, ages 2-6
Duck is in search of the prized golden Easter Egg. As he searches high and low, he finds eggs of every color but gold. Tots will love lifting the flaps to reveal the shiny, foil-detailed eggs, and will also have fun practicing names of colors as they appear in the book. This story has a wonderful rhyming pattern that makes it fun to read for grown-ups. A “sweet” surprise comes at the end when Duck reaches the goose that presumably would lay a golden egg, but learns that chocolate Easter Eggs are the true prize.
Here Comes Peter Cottontail!
By Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins, Illustrated by Pamela R. Levy; Candy Cane Press, $6.95, ages 1-6
Ever since Gene Autry first crooned this tune in 1950, “Peter Cottontail” has been as much a spring perennial as are daffodils and tulips. The only text in this sweet board book is the words to the song, which are accompanied by bright watercolor illustrations that bring this charming classic alive. This book is the perfect way to introduce the song to babies and a classic to keep in the family for generations. (A version that actually plays the tune is available at a slightly higher price, but I’m partial to the “low-tech” edition.)
Last One In is a Rotten Egg
Written and Illustrated by Diane deGroat; HarperCollins Publishers, $6.99, ages 3-8
Cousin Wally comes to visit Gilbert and Lola for Easter, but it’s quickly apparent that Wally’s manners leave something to be desired. He has to be first to do everything and often says “last one is a rotten egg.” At the Easter egg hunt, Wally is quite aggressive about finding the most eggs. Lola spots the coveted golden egg on a high tree branch, but can’t reach it. Wally gets it for her, but then keeps it for his own.
As Wally races to be first across the finish line, he doesn’t even notice that he dumps his basket. Lola and Gilbert pick up the dropped eggs and win the Easter egg hunt. But, Gilbert offers Wally the prize since he really did find the most eggs. Wally, who appears to have learned a lesson, offers to share. This book is part of Diane deGroat’s “Gilbert” series and a great story about manners, sharing and friendship.