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March 21, 2013 Edition

A Sweet Passover

Written by Leslea Newman
Illustrated by David Slonim

Little Miriam is always happy when itís time for Passover Ė every year, her family celebrates the eight days of the holiday at her grandparentís house by lighting candles, singing prayers, and eating lots and lots of crunchy matzah. Miriam loves everything about the holiday, especially the matzah and for seven days, she eats it with jam, with cream cheese, with tuna, and even covered in chocolate. By the eighth day of Passover, all she wants is a nice piece of soft, squishy, toast, or a muffin, or even a bagel. But Passover isnít over until sundown, and guess what her grandfather is making for breakfast! Newman sprinkles information about the holiday into the story and adds more details in an authorís note along with a recipe for matzah brei.

Sugar Snow

Written by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Illustrated by Doris Ettlinger

This picture book adaptation of a snippet from Little House in the Big Woods showcases an East Coast sign of spring: the making of maple syrup. Laura and her big sister, Mary, can see the ground through the melting snow Ė itís warming up and almost time to go outside to play. But then they get a big snowfall, which Pa calls a ďsugar snow.Ē The next day, Pa goes to help their grandfather and when he comes back, he brings a piece of maple sugar candy for each of the girls and a big bucket of maple syrup for Ma. Warm and cozy, with illustrations based on Garth Williamsí classic pictures, this slight story introduces the process of maple sugaring and also shows a little bit of life in the 1800s.

The Easter Bunnyís Assistant,

Written by Jan Thomas

Itís time to decorate Easter eggs with the Easter Bunny and his enthusiastic assistant, Skunk. But Skunk has a little problem: when he gets too excited, he isÖ wellÖ difficult to be around. Step 1 (hard boil the eggs) gets things off to a smelly start, and Easter Bunny asks Skunk to please control himself. Step 2 (make the dye) features such beautiful colors that Skunk adds his own bit of color (a yellowish fog). He almost manages to keep it pleasant for Step 3 (decorating the eggs with crayons), but sadly, Easter Bunny has to add Step 4 (remove Skunk from the room) before moving on to Step 5 (dye the eggs). All is well by the end, though, as Easter Bunny finds a clothespin and lets a well-meaning, but very excited Skunk back in to help hide the eggs. Thomasí lighthearted digital illustrations are reminiscent of Mo Willemís delicious pictures, but have their own charm and energy.

And then itís spring

Written by Julie Fogliano
Illustrated by Erin Stead

Readers who pay attention to the beautifully-detailed, delicately-colored illustrations will be well-rewarded, because this is a book about noticing the small things. After the last snow has melted away, a boy in a scarf, hat, and gloves, his dog, and his turtle, head out to a brown, brown field where spring is just not happening yet. They are joined by other creatures Ė a curious rabbit, several birds Ė and they plant seeds and hope for rain. Days later, itís still brown, but itís a hopeful brown, and it gets more hopeful as the weeks pass and the scarf and hat are replaced by a raincoat, then a t-shirt. The boy wonders why the seeds arenít sprouting: is it because the birds have eaten them all? Or have the bears come and stomped on them? (Even though heís put up a sign: These are seeds and they are trying) A greenish hum fills the earth, a tire swing gets tied to the tree, and after sun and rain and many wishes Ė suddenly, itís spring! Just the right mix of whimsy and reality make this a book we all can relate to this time of year.

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