Every day is April Fool’s Day…

April 2020

Every day dawns with more unsettling and unbelievable news about the pandemic that has crippled the entire global community. Yet, as we grapple with voluntary self-isolation and quarantines, lockdowns and movement restriction orders, hand sanitisers and face masks, Spring cheekily sneaks up on us, tantalizing us with its warm breezes, baby animals, chocolate eggs, tender green shoots and blushing cherry blossoms. The season of rebirth and renewal is here at last.

This month, we remember a few notable picture book reads from our archives which we believe will help us get through the challenging weeks ahead. But before we get down to business, let’s wash our hands! While germs may look adorable, like the little tykes in Do not lick this book* (it’s full of germs) , their effects can be devastating, so let’s spend a protective 20 seconds at the sink.

With Spring comes the emergence of gardeners, eager to break ground in their gardens for the year. Emily Hughes’ charming picture book, The Little Gardener, tells the tale of a very small and single-minded gardener with very big ambitions. Another delightful rhyming board book bursting with fruity cheer is Janet and Allan Ahlberg’s Each Peach Pear Plum , which I enjoyed reading to the kids as much as they loved listening to it when they were babies. But for the here and now, O’Hara Hale’s BE STILL, life  is a playful exploration of the natural world and its inhabitants, rather like a fresh spring breeze whispering to us to slow down and open our senses to our surroundings. Finally, the theme of reincarnation and rebirth is philosophically contemplated by a grandchild in Shinsuke Yoshitake’s whimsical What Happens Next? There is life after death, and we are reminded of this in April as Christians commemorate their most important festival, Easter, and as the Chinese pay their respects to their departed ancestors on Tomb Sweeping Day.

For the poets among us, the spirit of Spring is elegantly encapsulated in Mary Oliver’s poem about the season, reproduced below with the greatest respect and gratitude. In closing, may your Spring be a bountiful one, and may your many reads be good.

Maureen, Ben & Anna


a black bear
has just risen from sleep
and is staring

down the mountain.
All night
in the brisk and shallow restlessness
of early spring

I think of her,
her four black fists
flicking the gravel,
her tongue

like a red fire
touching the grass,
the cold water.
There is only one question:

how to love this world.
I think of her
like a black and leafy ledge

to sharpen her claws against
the silence
of the trees.
Whatever else

my life is
with its poems
and its music
and its glass cities,

it is also this dazzling darkness
down the mountain,
breathing and tasting;

all day I think of her—
her white teeth,
her wordlessness,
her perfect love.


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