Readers of Shaun Tan’s The Red Tree will recognize the glum-to-radiant trajectory of Fogliano’s soft-spoken debut, subtly illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Stead (A Sick Day for Amos McGee). Unfolding as a single sentence that carries readers from late winter to spring (almost every page opens with an “and,” pushing things along), the story focuses on a boy in blank-eyed glasses, who slouches in barren farmland with a dog, a turtle, and other assorted animals and birds. “First you have brown,/ all around you have brown.” The boy plants seeds in the packed earth and waits for the plants to grow. Worry and waiting are recurring themes: did birds eat the seeds? what about that trio of bears, seen happily ignoring the boy’s “please do not stomp here” sign? Pale blue sky and tawny drabs flood Stead’s block-print-and-pencil images, which yield not a sprout until the closing spread, “and now you have green,/ all around you have green.” In an understated and intimate partnership, Fogliano and Stead conjure late winter doldrums and the relief of spring’s arrival, well worth the wait. Ages 4–7. Illustrator’s agent: Emily Van Beek, Folio Literary Management. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/19/2011 Release date: 02/14/2012 Genre: Children's
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