Children’s Book of the Week: How Robin Saved Spring

How Robin Saved Spring by Debbie Ouellet, illustrated by Nicoletta Ceccoli

This is a completely lovely modern folk tale, one of those “how the zebra got its stripes” kinds of books, but with better illustrations. Lady Winter lives in a house with Sister Spring. When one of them is having her season, the other one is sleeping (there’s no mention of where the other two seasons live). Lady Winter is understandably a little attached to her own season, and looks out over the snowy landscape, knowing that spring will come soon and she’ll have to succumb to a dreamless sleep. And so she devises an evil little plot to keep her sister from waking, by knitting a special sleeping blanket. The robin sees all this happening and comes up with some plots of his own with the help of the other animals and the maple tree, and ultimately manages to wake Sister Spring himself (as you’d guess from the title).

There were several points during this book when I’d think things like, “Oh, so that’s why there’s no berries on the bushes in winter, and why the bears hibernate.” Which is a dumb thing to think, because the reason those things happen is not because Lady Winter got pissed off. Or is it? Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that this book is fairly entrancing.

I also really appreciated the subtleties in there. Lady Winter is mean and spiteful, but you know what? I get where she’s coming from. She likes her thing and has the power to try to keep it going, and you can’t really blame her. She is annoyed with the animals’ meddling, but somewhat gentle with them. Well, not really that gentle, I guess, but she’s not really wrathful either.

I know the rest of you have had Spring for a while now, but it really just did get to be Spring this past week in Maine, and it was lovely to read this book a few weeks ago and remember that Spring is coming.

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