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A Valentine’s Day with Erin E. Stead February 18, 2012

Posted by ccbooks in Book Reviews.
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One of the most anticipated picture books this winter is the second book illustrated by Erin E. Stead, who won the Caldecott last year for her debut, A Sick Day for Amos McGee. 

Various blogs started posting reviews of And Then It’s Spring, written by Julie Fogliano, several months ago. This led to much gnashing of teeth for me, wishing I were still working at a bookstore that got a sizeable number of ARCs (Advance Readers Copies)! Although now that I think of it, even when I worked at Imagination Station, we rarely got picture books ARCs.

Consequently, although I rarely buy picture books in hardback, I decided to purchase And Then It’s Spring, as well as A Sick Day for Amos McGee. And since the former was coming out on Valentine’s Day, it seemed appropriate to celebrate with these two lovely stories of taking care of other people as well as the world around us.

I mentioned in my post on Sophie Blackall the smooth quality of her illustrations. With Stead, I think it’s the unexpected roughness in her images, the result, I imagine, from the woodblock printing technique she uses as a base. I also love her minimal backgrounds, which leave me to imagine the interior of Amos McGee’s house or the elephant’s zoo habitat.

Stead is an illustrator who truly rewards second and third readings. It was a pleasure to go back through And Then It’s Spring and note the changing layers of clothing that the boy wears, and the evolution of birdhouses both wooden and cardboard in the tree.  None of the many animals who appear throughout are generic; they each have personality and detailed reactions to the events of the story.

It isn’t quite spring here in DC yet, but reading these books was a wonderful way to spend a grey February day.

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