By Elaine Magliaro
Soft, scented breezes, kite-catching winds, the
Pitter patter of warm rain on the
Roof, daffodils and daisies and lilacs
In bloom, apple trees wearing snow-white crowns.
Now the sun lingers at the edge of day and
Green…lovely green…has come home to stay.
SPRING: AN ALPHABET ACROSTIC
Written by Stephen Schnur
Illustrated by Leslie Evans
Stephen Schnur has written a series of seasonal alphabet acrostic books. All four of the books were illustrated by Leslie Evans. Evans’ pictures for Spring, which were executed in hand-colored linoleum cut blocks, are bright, colorful, and complement the thematic spring poems. In fact, the acrostics and illustrations work together well to celebrate this season of renewal.
The book begins with a poem about April: After days of/Pouring/Rain, the last/Ice and snow finally/Leave the earth. The illustration that accompanies this poem shows a close-up of purple crocuses blossoming on a background of black earth and melting snow. The book ends with the poem Zenith, which tells of zucchinis and eggplants greening as summer finally arrives and the sun is high overhead.
Other words for which Schnur wrote poems for this ABC acrostic collection include buds, grass, hopscotch, kites, May, nest, outside, and seeds.
Here is an example of another of the book’s acrostics:
Nestled under the
Song-filled ark of
Twigs and grass.
Classroom Connection: It might be fun to write some collaborative class acrostic poems about the sights, sounds, and signs of spring. First, start by eliciting responses from students a list of “spring” words the class could use for writing acrostics. Some examples: buds, blossom, robin, green, showers (rain), flowers, frogs/spring peepers.
NOTE: See my post A Poem a Day #11 for a step-by-step procedure for writing collaborative acrostics with your students/children. The post also includes a review of Silver Seeds, a fine book of acrostic poems, which was written by Paul Paolilli and Dan Brewer and illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher
Here’s another example of an acrostic I wrote for spring:
By Elaine Magliaro
Coming up, I’m coming up,
Reaching through the softening soil, poking my petals
Out of the earth,
Collecting sunlight in my purple cup.
Up, I’m coming up.
Spring is on the way!
Written & illustrated by Douglas Florian
Handsprings is a great poetry book to have on “hand” in the classroom at this time of year. Florian’s poetry in this collection is typical of his work. The poems are bouncy, energetic, rhythmic, rhyming…and full of wordplay. The collection begins with a few poems about saying goodbye to winter and comparing the coldest season to spring. In Winter and Spring, Florian writes: Winter’s cold and dark and sneezy./Spring is cool and bright and breezy. The book abounds with list poems: Growing, Handsprings, Spring is When, What I Love about Spring, What I Hate about Spring, The March Wind, Spring, Ten Things to Do When It Rains, Spring-Cleaning, Spring Is, Spring Berries, Green Scene, May, Fresh Spring, and Nature Walk.
Here’s an excerpt from the list poem Handsprings:
Spring is great
For growing grass.
Spring has zing
And spring has sass.
Spring is super.
Spring is spry.
Spring is when
Things start to fly.
The list poems in Handsprings could serve as inspiration and fine examples for some collaborative class list poems about spring.
DON’T STEP ON THE SKY: A HANDFUL OF HAIKU
Written by Miriam Chaikin
Illustrated by Hiroe Nakata
Henry Holt, 2002
Don’t Step on the Sky would be a good collection of haiku poems to share with children at this time of year. Not all the poems speak specifically about spring—but there are poems about birds, plants growing, a rushing brook, and rain.
You can read a review of this book that I wrote for Blue Rose Girls in my post Poetry Friday: Happy Haiku to You.
PICTURE BOOKS IN VERSE
SPLISH, SPLASH, SPRING
Written by Jan Carr
Illustrated by Dorothy Donohue
Holiday House, 2001
Illustrated with colorful cut paper collages, Splish, Splash, Spring would be an excellent book to read aloud to children in preschool through kindergarten. In the book, Spring is sloppy/So raindroppy!, the sun plays hide-and-seek, baby robins cheep and beg for bugs, children dig up earthworms and slugs and fly kites, and boughs of trees are "bloomy" and "perfumy."
Each illustration is a framed two-page spread showing three children observing the signs of spring or cavorting outdoors. Like the children in the pictures, the author cavorts, too—she plays with words: Kites are loop-de-looping, baby robins are chit-chit-cheeping, Thunder threatens/Skip-skidoo!
Most of the two-page spreads include a four-line verse with a rhyme scheme of AABC. The final word of the last line rhymes with the last word of the verse on the following page.
Here’s an excerpt:
There’s a crocus!
Brave the chill
Down the hill
Written by Phillis Gershator
Illustrated by Alison Jay
Barefoot Books, 2007
This is a book written in rhyming text about the sights and sounds of the four seasons.
Summer: insects singing, leaves rustling, children splashing in the water, relaxing in a hammock
Fall: acorns and squirrels, ripening pumpkins and apples, the crunch of leaves underfoot, honking geese
Winter: sparkling snow, boots crunching in snow, grown-ups shoveling snow, skaters spinning, skiers gliding
Spring: singing finches, flower bulbs sprouting, chicks hatching, frogs croaking, ducks quacking, rains pitter pattering
Gershator’s text is spare…leaving Allison Jay with an uncluttered canvas to interpret her words. And Alison Jay takes good advantage of this—her illustrations add depth and dimension to the text and evoke the natural essence of the seasons.
I love Alison Jay’s picture book art. Her method of using a crackling varnish over alkyd oil paint gives her illustrations a look of old-world art. Listen, Listen is absolutely gorgeous! Jay’s illustrations are painted in the shape of rectangles, circles, semi-circles, ovals, and rectangles overlaid on a white background—and some are painted directly on a plain white background. Gershator’s rhyming text curves around most of the illustrations—unifying the words and art.
Gershator’s book about the four seasons begins with summer. She keeps a special focus on the sounds of the seasons throughout the book.
Listen, listen…what’s that sound? Insects singing all around!
Chirp, chirp, churr, churr, buzz, buzz, whirr, whirr.
In the two-page spread that accompanies these lines, we see all kinds of bugs—grasshoppers, ladybugs, ants, dragonflies, bees, and butterflies—resting on blades of grass or flying through the air. In the following illustrations for summer, fall, and winter, we see: insects flying out of an illustration onto the white page as summer leaves and autumn arrives; a squirrel carrying a basket of acorns; people picking apples and harvesting pumpkins; geese flying overhead as autumn winds whip colored leaves across the page; a starlit winter night; people sledding and skiing down a snow-covered hill; two cats warming themselves by a fireplace; birds singing to a smiling sun as spring arrives; sprouting flowers shouting; chicks hatching; frogs croaking in a pond while rabbits munch a snack; spring showers dimpling a pond as animals race for cover.
Here’s an excerpt from the section on spring:
Frogs croak, ducklings quack. Munch, munch, rabbits snack.
Rains fall, pitter, patter. Sparrows gather, chitter, chatter.
Listen, listen…spring is gone. Another season has begun.
Gershator brings us back full circle and to summer once again, reinforcing for young children the cycle of the seasons. At the end of the book there are four pages—one for each season—in which things emblematic of a particular season are listed—things for children to look for in the illustrations.
Here are some of the plants, animals, and other things listed for spring:
NOTE: You can view four of the book’s interior illustrations here—as well as art from some of Alison Jay’s other books here.
MORE ABOUT SPRING & POETRY
Check my post Poetry Friday: Spring Is for more poetry book recommendations and poetry-writing suggestions.
At Blue Rose Girls, I have a poem by Lisel Mueller entitled “When I Am Asked” in which she explains how she came to write poetry.
The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup.