~By Leslie Colin Tribble
I was browsing the new shelves in the children's department of my local library and was thrilled to see a new book by Jane Yolen. Other books I leafed through to see if I really wanted to bring them home. Not this one. I snatched it up and brought it home on top of the pile, without even glancing at it.
A new book by Jane Yolen? Yes, please!
According to Amazon, the book was published September 2015. It's a rhyming book with sparse, lyrical text that conveys just a whisper of each season. The simple text leaves lots of room for discussion about what else could be said about the seasons - a great way to draw listeners in to think about the magic and uniqueness of the times of the year. At first glance it doesn't feel like there's much of a rhyme, but reading it again and again you feel the pace and rhythm which draws you into the story.
There are three to four short poems about each season, each one ending with the refrain, "then winter (insert each season's name) is gone." My favorite poem is the first descriptor of spring,
blossoms and possums
and gossamer breeze.
Spring is my least favorite season (it's just muddy and windy in Wyoming) but I absolutely love the dizzy-drunk dance of the bumblebees as they emerge from their ground nests. Jane Yolen's "hum-bumble bees" is perfect!
My next favorite is about fall, which is my favorite season.
Pumpkins and gourds
and the clamor of herds.
Honking gees Vs.
And the bare-bones of trees.
For me, these were wonderful fall words.
The sparse and tight text is accompanied by sumptuous illustrations by Lisel Jane Ashlock. Each page is filled with delightful scenes, packed with wildlife and plants. Readers and their lap-sitters could spend a good chunk of time reading this book even though it only has about 170 words. The lovely pictures are perfect for a "Find the fox (or weasel, or beaver, or berry, etc.)" game. The book would be an excellent resource for teaching young children what animals might live in various habitats, although there might need to be some distinction about wild animals that live in America and those that inhabit Britain (a nod to Jane Yolen's homes in both Massachusetts and Scotland). Hedgehogs and a very striking European badger make their appearances in a few spreads.
Although the plants and animals are front and center in each of the illustrations, a closer look reveals people in the background enjoying different seasonal activities. I especially liked the fall page with what appear to be woodland creatures playing in the fallen leaves. Deeper inspection reveals they are actually children with animal masks.
There are multitudes of books on the seasons, but Sing a Season Song will be one that both parents and children will enjoy again and again.