When Green Becomes Tomatoes: A Poetry Book You’ll Want to Own

BookendsCindy: Yes, of course you need another seasonal poetry collection in your classroom, library, or home, especially when that collection is as special as Julie Fogliano’s When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons (2016). Recently, we raved about Firefly July, and I always keep Trina Schart Hyman’s illustrated version of A Child’s Calendar (1999) by John Updike at the ready. I am equally infatuated with the newest seasonal poetry collection on the block.

Fogliano begins her year on March 20th, the first day of spring:

march 20

from a snow-covered tree
one bird singing
each tweet poking
a tiny hole
through the edge of winter
and landing carefully
balancing gently
on the tip of spring

When Green Becomes Tomatoes by Julie FoglianoThe illustration of a singing bird balanced on a branch still frosted with snow faces a page featuring a March 22nd crocus poem illustrated with a young child, still in mittens, hat, and boots, looking closely at the first blooms poking up through the snow. The seasons pass, as seasons do, and Fogliano goes full circle, closing out the book with the same poem with which she begins, a move that can help young children see the cycle of seasons more clearly.

You can get a taste of the illustrations and poetry at Fogliano’s publisher’s website, but trust me: You want to own this, now.

Lynn: When Green Becomes Tomatoes would be a classroom gem. Pull it out as the seasons change. Begin the morning with a poem perfectly tuned to a child’s experience. Each is short—some only two lines—but each carries the essence of a season. Fogliano writes with a smile in her words and a palpable appreciation of that which can be seen or smelled or felt. She reminds us that we should experience the natural world around us.

Julie Morstad’s lovely illustrations, done in gouache and pencil crayon, feature a diverse cast of children set against simple backgrounds of water and sky. Each quietly reflects the subject of the poems through delightful, small details.

June PoemsLike Cindy says, this is a book to own and to savor. So many wonderful poems make it hard to choose a favorite, but “march 13” is up there for the perfect way it expresses how that month makes me feel:

march 13

but tired of mittens
i asked the winter to please tell the snow
thank you very much, but no



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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