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Green Grass, a Duck, and a Farewell

Duck

Greeting parents and caregivers of young children! It’s finally springtime and I felt compelled to share one of my favorite spring stories with you to celebrate. In March 2009 I adopted a wild duck and (ignoring the sage advice of Dick Van Dyke) named her Gregory Peck. I know, I know. She was only a day old when we found her, so we couldn’t tell if she was a boy or girl. We guessed wrong and by the time we knew for sure, the name had stuck. Anyway, how I came to adopt this little feathery friend is another story. The real story here is the adventures our little family shared with Gregory over the three months we raised her. There was duck diapering (yes, really), imprinting (on me), multiple failed test-flights, a surprising bond between duck and cat (or perhaps an overly ambivalent cat), lots of messes, and many duck lapsits.

 Just before Gregory took to the skies for good, a crazy hailstorm pummeled Oklahoma City. I was in the garage changing the oil in one of our cars. Amidst the cacophonous roar of hail pelting our house, that little duck found her way into the garage, hopped up onto my chest, closed her eyes, and went to sleep. It was a really special (and honestly, kind of weird) moment.

So Gregory, these books all about spring are for you! They’re also for you, parents and caregivers of young children. I hope you’ll find some time this spring to walk in the park, pick wildflowers, roll in the grass, and admire the ducks with the special kiddos in your lives. Until next time, keep reading together!

 

Plant a Kiss by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds)

Amy passed away a few weeks ago. She wrote an incredibly compelling piece for the New York Times before her passing that is worth sharing. This is one of my favorite books and since it has a garden-y, spring-y theme I thought this was the perfect spot to share. Her kindness, generosity, and optimism will be profoundly missed right along with her incredible writing talent.

I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld)

This is another I felt compelled to share because of Amy’s passing but also because memories it evokes. A few summers ago we had a dandelion uprising in our yard, so I agreed to pay my son a penny for every flower he picked. I was thinking he might end up with a few hundred. A few hours later he brought me 1,280 flowers and was ready to claim his reward. It was a day filled with a lot of laughs. Anyway, this book is packed with dandelions, wishes, and whimsy and is sure to make you smile.

Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms by Julia Rawlinson (illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke)

I love all of the books in the “Fletcher” series, but this one is especially fun for me because it reminds me of the spring when my son and I discovered a bunch of cottonwood trees in bloom on a windy day. It felt just like a spring snowstorm and we shared giggles and “snowball” fights until it was too dark to play anymore. There’s a similar scene in this book that I hope you’ll enjoy!

If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson

Kadir Nelson is an incredible artist, both with words and oil paints. This book tells a fun story about stinginess and its consequences; likewise, generosity and its consequences. It’s a perfect tale to share while sitting in the garden with your little one on a cool spring evening.

Finding Spring by Carin Berger

This is simply one of the best cut paper illustration books I have ever seen and the text is simple and fun as a bonus! You’ll enjoy following Maurice as he searches for spring amongst the barren trees of winter and finally finds it on the other side of a long nap.

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

This is one of my top ten picture books of all time. Readers will experience a perfect blend of wonder, curiosity, and growth as Liam discovers how to tend his unexpected garden. I love the journey Liam embarks upon as he uncovers the secrets to make his garden grow into all the nooks and crannies of the once-barren city.

Froodle! by Antoinette Portis

Another of my all-time favorites! Caw! Coo! Chip! Peep! Is all the birds ever say. One day Little Brown Bird decides to sing a new song. No one is pleased at first (she may as well have said Blark!) but before long everyone is joining in the silly fun. Everyone, that is, except Crow. Will the friends be able to convince Crow that sometimes it’s okay to act a little cuckoo?

Rooting for You by Susan Hood (illustrated by Matthew Cordell)

Little Seed is NOT coming out. Forget about it. No way. It’s safe and nice deep in the soil. Once boredom sets in, however, Seed decides to stick out just one little shoot. As Seed approached the surface, it will take some rooting from underground friends to muster the bravery to bloom. Can Little Seed handle the challenge? Find out in this fun interactive book.

999 Frogs Wake Up by Ken Kimura (illustrated by Yasunari Murakami)

I admit it. I originally checked this book out because the cover reminded me of Genesis’s Invisible Touch album cover. After I actually read the book I thought, “This is perfect for springtime!” As the frogs awake from their winter home in the mud, they set about waking all the other creatures still fast asleep. Adventure ensues as they accidentally twist the tail of a snake and (nearly) wake him up for a froggy feast!

Hooray for Spring by Kazuo Iwamura

Siblings Mick, Mack, and Molly go exploring and discover a hungry baby bird. Hilarity follows as they try feeding the bird pinecones and cherry blossoms and subsequently discover a bird’s preferred diet isn’t anything they imagined. Preschoolers will love the last scene as the squirrels pretend to be baby birds at the dinner table.

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