Wishfully Thinking of Spring
‘When Blue Met Egg’ and ‘And Then It’s Spring’
From “When Blue Met Egg”
By PAMELA PAUL
Published: February 15, 2012
As winter slogs on, as it has been known to do exhaustively in New York until April, it is hard to believe that one day spring will come. Especially if you are 4 years old and your calendar years are defined by the inexplicable wastelands between birthdays, Christmas and Halloween.
WHEN BLUE MET EGG
Written and illustrated by Lindsay Ward
32 pp. Dial. $16.99. (Picture book; ages 3 to 5)
AND THEN IT’S SPRING
By Julie Fogliano
Illustrated by Erin E. Stead
32 pp. A Neal Porter Book/Roaring Brook Press. $16.99. (Picture book; ages 4 to 7)
From “And Then It’s Spring”
But a hint of sunshine and sky-blue vistas emerge in two attractive new picture books, “When Blue Met Egg,” written and illustrated by Lindsay Ward, and “And Then It’s Spring,” written by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Erin E. Stead, who won a Caldecott Medal in 2011 for “A Sick Day for Amos McGee.”
“When Blue Met Egg” is very much a bird-in-New-York story along the lines of Pale Male’s, albeit with far less truth and a lot more whimsy. Blue is a small bird awakened by “something extraordinary flying through the air” that lands in her nest. The observant 4-year-old reader knows this object to be a snowball, though Blue mistakes it for an egg.
What follows is a New York travelogue as Blue searches for Egg’s mother. Together they make their way through the city, from Central Park to the Statue of Liberty, with one foldout spread offering an aerial view of the Brooklyn Bridge in all its glory.
The mission, needless to say, is a flop, but Blue sticks with Egg as the two pass the winter months visiting various attractions, including, rather improbably, the New York City Opera and the Guggenheim Museum. Only when spring comes does Egg meet her inevitable sloshy fate, though Blue, ever optimistic, finds a way to carry on the friendship.
The book is full of good cheer, New Yorkiness and an “I knew it!” ending like that of P.D. Eastman’s “Are You My Mother?” It doesn’t really surprise the reader, but makes him feel wiser nonetheless. Ward’s engaging and imperfectly cut cut-paper illustrations are full of witty urban references. Crossword puzzles shade Central Park’s hills of snow, and maps of Manhattan color the East River. Throughout, Blue, topped with an eccentric cherry-colored hat, flits brightness into the winter landscape.
A child clad in red woolens provides much the same function in “And Then It’s Spring,” which opens with a dreary landscape. “First you have brown, all around you have brown,” observes the bespectacled boy as winter drones unpromisingly into late winter, and finally, glacially, into early spring.
In Erin E. Stead’s delicate, atmospheric illustrations, a melancholic cloud always hangs overhead, lending a pensive tone that meshes nicely with Fogliano’s rambling, meditative text. This is a story about waiting and waiting and waiting, a gloomy subject, unleavened by humor (with the brief exception of some stomping bears) — it may hit rather close to home for young readers. Combined with the muddy browns and the boy’s opaque glasses, the effect could leave small children a little cold, even as it appeals to their world-weary parents.
If only we didn’t have to wait till the very last page for spring.