Enjoy the Seasons with Sam Usher

 Lynn: The seasons are a perennial topic in primary and preschool classrooms. Especially for children who live in places where the seasons change dramatically, it is a fascinating one. Author and illustrator Sam Usher began his picture-book appreciation of the seasons with Rain (2017), and each subsequent tile has been a joyful appreciation of seasonal fun and beauty, as seen through the eyes of a small boy and his grandfather. As a grown-up who also loves the seasons, I have found these books to be a delightful reminder of each season’s unique delights, as well as odes to imaginative play.

In Rain, the little boy wakes up to rain and can’t wait to get outside. His grandfather is busy writing a letter and thinks it might be better to wait. The little boy thinks of all the wonderful things to do outside in the rain, but still they wait. When Grandfather finally agrees, the pair opens the door to a shimmering, watery adventure.

In Sun (2018), the cover’s signature red door opens to the boy and his grandfather about to go on a picnic. To find the perfect spot, they navigate a burning desert, a cave, and a pirate ship. As Grandpa says, “If you keep looking, you never know what you might find.” Usher illustrates each book with watercolors and ink and masterfully alternates perspective between stunning two-page spreads and pages with small, humorous details. The page-turns to the large scenes are brilliantly effective and capture the beautiful essence each season offers.

Cindy: Storm (2018) looks a lot like our Michigan weather as I’m writing this. The boy awakes in bed to peer out his window and sees the fall leaves swirling in the wind. Grandfather declares it a perfect day to fly the kite—but first, they have to find it. Readers could make an “I spy” game out of the fun details in the scenes of these books. Some of the objects even enter the story, if only in the boy’s imagination.

There’s nothing more exciting for a young child than waking to a snow-covered world, especially if you can be the first one to make tracks in the unmarked canvas! Snow (2018) finds Grandpa moving too slowly to get them outside before anyone else, but patience also has its reward. As Lynn says, Usher’s artwork is beautiful. The good use of white space contrasted with detailed scenes of clutter or adventure leaves one wanting to linger over the illustrations. I long to add the whole set of these to my bookshelf. Libraries should, too. They will be timeless.

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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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