Spring is in the air

By SAMANTHA CRITCHELL Associated Press Writer Published:

With the onset of spring, natures little creatures come alive. Then they apparently leap onto the pages of childrens picture books.

Cute critters dominate the seasonal releases:

Busy in the Garden (Greenwillow/HarperCollins, $15.99, ages 3 and up) by George Shannon and illustrated by Sam Williams.

Everyone whos anyone on the farm gets their own cute, kid-friendly poem in this book. The roosters is called Spring Alarm! Two bunnies who want more carrots come up with a charming chant in Garden Math, and even rutabaga, not a word that normally rolls off the tongues of young readers, co-stars with turnips, carrots, corn cobs and squash in Stew.

Buzz-Buzz, Busy Bees (Little Simon, $5.99, ages 3-7) by Dawn Bentley and illustrated by Heather Cahoon.

Bees very busy indeed. They dont have time to play with roosters, race the horses or watch a sheep jump the gate. They are worker bees, after all, making golden honey for the farmer and everyone else to enjoy.

Duck in the Truck (Kane/Miller, $7.99, ages 3-6) by Jez Alborough.

The downside of the sun melting away all the snow is that more than a little bit of mud is left in its place. Duck finds this out firsthand when his truck goes into the muck and gets stuck.

Itll take a team of barnyard types to get him out of this mess.

Nutmeg and Barley: A Budding Friendship (Candlewick, $15.99, ages 4-7) by Janie Bynum.

Barley the mouse works hard on his garden each and every day, while Nutmeg the squirrel soaks up the sun.

Barley knows he could make a friend out of Nutmeg, and a bunch of fresh flowers seems to do the trick until theres a bit of miscommunication. But it takes more than that to derail a friendship thats meant to be.

I Can Name 50 Trees Today! (Random House, $8.99, ages 5-8) by Bonnie Worth and illustrated by Aristides Ruiz and Joe Mathieu.

If anyone could make learning about branches and bark fun, its the folks at The Cat in the Hats Learning Library, which produced this book.

And how many parents out there know this much about the albizia falcata?

Heres a fast grower; this will surely amaze ya. Over one inch each day, this tree grows in Malaysia.

Holey Moley (North/South, $16.95, ages 4-8) by Marcus Pfister.

Two brothers want to play, but they each go their separate ways when they cant agree what to do: Build a hill or dig a hole?

What they realize after spending too much time alone and frustrated doing their own things is that theyre really doing the same things. They also realize they did make a mountain out of a mole hill.

Duck & Goose (Schwartz & Wade, $14.95, ages 3-7) by Tad Hills.

Apparently neither Duck nor Goose played soccer when they were young. The two bicker over who is going to care for a giant spotted egg. But when they start talking about all the things the baby inside the egg will learn once he hatches, it becomes our egg. That is, until a little blue bird kicks that fantasy right out from under them.

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