cover image SPRING SONG


Barbara Seuling, SPRING SONGBarbara Seuling

As in their previous collaboration, Winter Lullaby, Seuling and Newbold present a series of questions with rhymed answers, this time about spring and the renewed activity of various creatures, including humans. "When the sun warms/ the hard ground and makes it soft,/ what do moles do?/ "Dig a new row/ of tunnels below." Cocoons burst open "and release their prize," and bunnies "hop all over/ in the clover." For each question, Newbold conjures a different, expansive landscape; for each answer, he supplies a slightly anthropomorphized close-up of the featured animal. With their stately but unmoving panoramas seemingly etched in black-ink shadows, these acrylic paintings look almost like woodcuts. Each blade of yellow grass, each lush woodland flower or rush of waterfall, seems engraved precisely into the landscape's design. The writing, however, is sometimes clumsy (the black bear "wakes up to greet/ a swimming treat"; in other words, it sees a fish), and the questions are not to be mistaken for riddles. Asked "When tall reeds grow/ across the marshy wetlands,/ what do bullfrogs do?," for example, few children would guess, "Croak the night long,/ their mating song." Despite the occasional awkwardness, this handsome book offers readers a joyful introduction to the creatures of woodland, forest, mountain range, meadow and marshland. Most will accept Seuling's invitation to "come out to cheer,/ for spring is here!" Ages 2-5. (Mar.)