Name of Book: And Then It’s Spring
Author: Julie Fogliano
Illustrator: Erin E. Stead
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Audience: 4-7 years
Summary: A little boy and three animal friends plant seeds in the early spring. The seeds take a long time to grow, and the waiting is mixed with both anxiety and with hope.
Literary elements at work in the story: Fogliano writes evocatively of the rhythms of nature and of the difficulty of remaining hopeful in the face of the brown of early spring. It is Erin Stead’s illustrations of the unnamed setting, though, that give this book its real power. Each double-page spread shows the same small plot of earth as it changes, ever so slowly, throughout the season of waiting.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? A bespectacled young boy is the only human pictured in this book; his partners in springtime planting are a rabbit, a turtle, and a large brown dog.
Theological conversation partners: Theological terms like belief and faith are difficult for children (and adults!) to understand. Even Jesus appreciated how tied we are to the concrete. When Thomas demanded to see the wounds in the Lord’s hands, Jesus immediately showed him, but Jesus went on to say, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29) And Then It’s Spring would be a great springboard for talking about faith with children. The young protagonist cannot see the sprouts within the seeds he plants; he only believes that they will spring forth out of the earth. Fogliano and Stead honestly show that faith is not always easy. The little boy and his friends worry that maybe the birds have eaten the seeds, or the bears have stomped too hard around them. Faith means coming back, even in times of discouragement. One of the most beautiful illustrations in the book shows boy, dog, turtle and rabbit with their respective ears to the ground, listening to the “greenish hum that you can only hear if you put your ear to the ground and close your eyes.” Below the surface of the earth, invisible to them, is a warren of animal burrows and deep roots growing from the seeds whose shoots will soon sprout above ground. As we read in Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the assurance of things not seen.” Finally, the child and his friends in this story teach us the important lesson that faith is often about simply showing up and paying attention.
Faith Talk Questions:
- What sorts of things did the boy and his friends plant in this story?
- Have you ever planted seeds before? What did you plant?
- What do you think the boy and the animals were feeling after they planted their seeds?
- After they planted the seeds, what could they see?
- Why do they keep coming back to the place where they planted their seeds, even though they couldn’t see anything?
- Here are some other things that we can’t see: love, sadness, the wind, God. How do we know that they are real?
This review was written by Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna and regular reviewer Beth Lyon-Suhring. Beth is the Director of Christian Education at the St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Suffolk, VA.
And Then It’s Spring by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.