Title: When Spring Comes
Author: Kevin Henkes
Illustrator: Laura Dronzek
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: Feb. 9, 2016
Audience: Ages 4-8
Summary: Henkes and Dronzek reveal the rewards of waiting as the season changes from drab and empty Winter to Spring’s abundant life and beauty.
Literary elements at work in the story: With its frequent use of the second-person throughout the narrative, this simple story reads like a guidebook to the change of seasons. Just as Fodor’s instructs the tourist to keep eyes peeled for the next vista, the reader of When Spring Comes is told to watch for changes on the seasonal horizon: “Before Spring comes, the trees look like black sticks against the sky. But if you wait, Spring will bring leaves and blossoms.” The unseen narrator speaks conversationally to the reader, encouraging careful observation and patience. The main character is Spring itself, though the observer can only see its effects, and the plot is almost non-existent, though Dronzek’s colorful flat drawings give vitality and joy to the slow transformation that comes to the earth as the seasons change.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? None
Theological Conversation Partners: One could of course use this lovely story as a jumping-off point for a discussion about God’s plan for nature. The earth turns, the sun warms the garden, the flowers grow. Henkes and Dronzek’s hymn to Spring might also provide a metaphor for our own spiritual lives. Most of us go through periods when our spiritual gardens are “just dirt, and empty.” The work of an unseen Spirit causes faith to grow where once there was just mud. It is hard to wait for the greening of spring and of faith, and that’s where the importance of faithful narrators comes into play. They can reassure us that change will come and that today’s mud holds the seeds of tomorrow’s lush blooming. The psalmist reminds us to persevere for just such a time: “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14) We are also reminded in the book’s final pages that nothing is static; the goal is never reached once and for all. The narrator playfully cautions that when Spring arrives, “you might think you are done waiting, but you are not … Now you have to wait for summer.” Just as illustrations of flip-flops, fireworks, and watermelon slices appear as harbingers of the next season, we know that faith, too, grows on a continuum, and that there is more in store for those who are patient in their waiting.
Faith Talk Questions:
- When you look at the first page of this story, how do you know that the snowy, leafless trees will ever look any different?
- Do you ever find it hard to wait for things?
- The Creation story in the Bible tells us that God had a plan for everything on earth, like the changing of the seasons in this story. What are some other things for which God has planned?
- What do you think God’s plans are for you?
- When do you think you will know those plans? All at once?
- This book tells us that there are signs that Spring is coming: birds lay eggs in nests, seeds sprout into flowers, the rain and mud come. What are some signs that you are growing up?
This review is written by Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna Beth Lyon-Suhring. Beth serves as Director of Christian Education at the St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Suffolk, VA.
When Spring Comes by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.