Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Abracadabra, it's spring! by Anne Sibley O'Brien, illustrated by Susan Gal

I've been wondering sadly when Susan Gal was going to do another book - I absolutely adored her Please take me for a walk and Night Lights (both sadly out of print) and so I was thrilled when I saw she was doing the illustrations for a new seasonal series by Anne Sibley O'Brien.

Each gorgeously illustrated spread poses a question and a magic word "How could twigs turn into pillows? Presto chango!" then once you've lifted the full-page flap, you'll see the answer "Pussy willows!" Buds and leaves sprout, birds and other animals appear, and spring is in full bloom by the end of the book, when you toss away your winter boots and "Abracadabra! Now it's spring!" with a joyous group of multicultural children playing outside.

The one drawback is the "magic" words used. They include "mumbo jumbo" which has a racist history and is (thankfully) no longer used and some more obscure words that I'm reluctant to use without googling them first, like "alizebu". However, it's simple to just substitute abracadabra for the different words. Yes, I know that means it won't rhyme but I don't care much for rhyming words anyways - the kids will be much more excited about having a word they can shout each time you lift a page!

However, the real draw, for me, is Susan Gal's joyful explosion of color in her artwork. A swirl of yellow denotes the sun, an explosion of green and pink is a tree in bloom, a single red-breasted bird and a red kite against a blue sky with a drift of green. Turn the page and a flock of colorful birds explode across the page, all wide-beaked as they sing enthusiastically.

Verdict: Hopefully the issues with the "magic" words will be fixed in the next title in this series. Until then, I'll happily purchase it and change it myself and look forward to classes of enthusiastic children shouting "abracadabra" as we welcome the spring.

ISBN: 9781419718915; Published 2016 by Abrams/Appleseed; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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