Winter lasts a long time here in Alaska. While friends are emailing that daffodils and tulips are in bloom in the Lower 48, I am still shoveling snow from my driveway. When people are thinking of putting in annuals in their flower pots, we still see our breath in the morning. Perhaps that is why a book about SPRING is so appealing and this one did not disappoint! The moment I saw this book at the store, my attention was captured by the beautiful cover! I couldn't wait to get this home to my daughters (ages 8 and 5).
Debbie Ouellet's How Robin Saved Spring is a tale of two sisters (Lady Winter & Sister Spring), each charged with managing their corresponding seasons. Lady Winter doesn't want winter to end, and conspires to keep her sister asleep so she can continue her reign. Recognizing the gravity of the situation, brown-breasted Robin calls upon various woodland creatures to try and wake Sister Spring from her slumber. All attempts fail, although they do provide wonderful bits of story for the creatures. For instance, in her attempt to wake Sister Spring, Ladybug hides among some coals near the fire. When it becomes too hot for her, little black dots are burned into her red back! This part of the story brought a smile to my daughters' faces each time we encountered a new "feature" of one of the woodland creatures.
When all the other creatures have failed to wake Sister Spring, Robin takes matters into his own hands (or wings?). He convinces Mother Sun to give him just a bit of morning light to wake Sister Spring. Mother Sun tells him that morning light is precious and asks what he is willing to trade for it; he decides to trade his beautiful voice. In getting the morning light from Mother Sun, his chest is given its orange-red appearance and, of course, he is able to wake Sister Spring with the combination of the very special morning light and his new song--UP! UP! UP!
Although completely original, this book has the feel of a classic fable or folk tale. The back flap of the jacket says this is the first book Ms. Ouellet has written for young readers, but I'm sure it will not be her last. The illustrations are BEAUTIFUL and it made me want to seek out other works illustrated by Nicoletta Ceccoli. In fact, Ouellet and Ceccoli are make quite a dynamic duo and should work together again!
The intended age for this story is a bit hard to pin down. For starters, it has the feeling of being a timeless and ageless kind of story. I noted on Amazon's info that it's listed as being for readers ages 9-12, but that sort of seems based on vocabulary. There's another item above that mentions it as being for preschool through grade 2. We read it together as a bedtime story and I think that was just right. My girls were enthralled from the first page. Better still, the moment I finished it my 8 year old whispered "can we read it again?" What more could you ask for? I'd be kind of surprised to see my 8 year old pick it up and read it on her own, but can imagine my 5 year old sitting with this for HOURS going through the pages, pretending to read it to her dolls, and imagining herself in the rich scenes created by illustrator Nicoletta Ceccoli.
In short, I'd say this is a great book to add to your collection! It will be a favorite in spring, of course, but will likely become a favorite story for any time of year.