Storytime: Patience

Spring seems like a fine time to share some picture books about waiting. Is there a more perfect example of good things coming to those who wait than waiting for an egg to hatch? Unless it’s waiting for a seed to sprout, or waiting for that seed to sprout and grow into a tree so you can retrieve that precious toy airplane you threw on the roof when you were a child . . . but I’m getting ahead of myself. May this month be one of anticipation whether you’re waiting for gardens to grow, chicks to hatch, or parties to happen. It is a season of hope. And if you’re in Texas, you don’t have to wait any longer for bluebonnets. They are incredible this year!

I couldn’t resist sneaking in the grandchild post. Or this one.

Yep, I did that. Me and my next book baby in the bluebonnets, coming out May 7th. And now, for our April picture books. Thanks for your patience (see how I did that?)

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss, pictures by Crockett Johnson

This classic is a testament to perseverance in the face of naysayers. A boy plants a carrot seed, and each person in his family warns him, “it won’t come up.” But every day the boy tends the ground, pulling weeds and watering, and . . . “nothing came up. And nothing came up. Everyone kept saying it wouldn’t come up.” What is wrong with this family? But the boy keeps weeding and watering and one day . . . “a carrot came up.” A carrot so big the boy needs a wheelbarrow to haul it off!

This book speaks to the writer in me who tries and tries and waits and waits, and nothing comes up, until one day, it does. The idea. The contract. The book on the shelf. It also speaks to a toddler that can’t wait one more minute for his “yunch” because he’s “hungee!” The simple design and color palette of The Carrot Seed say so much with so little. Big picture? Patience can bear much fruit (and vegetables).

The Boy and the Airplane by Mark Pett

There’s not a single word in this book, and it’s illustrated with the same three subdued colors you see on the cover, and yet that’s all it needs to be brilliant, heart-warming, and funny. It begins with a little boy receiving a box wrapped with a bow as someone walks off the left side of the page. Inside is a toy airplane. The boy has a blast playing with it, but then he accidentally throws it on the roof. So he gets a ladder, but it doesn’t reach. He tries a lasso, a pogo stick, a high-powered hose and a fastball, but nothing works.

And so, he plants a seed. That’s right, a seed.

Then we see the boy age as the tree slowly grows. This is the brilliant, wacky, weird part of this book that I love so much. Finally, when he’s an old man with a big beard and a big belly, he climbs up that tree and finally gets the plane back. And he’s so happy, just grinning like a kid, but it isn’t over. He looks over his shoulder. We don’t know what he sees, but it makes him hesitate. Turn the page, and on the next spread, there’s a small girl holding a box wrapped in a bow, and the old man is smiling as he walks off the edge of the page to the right. The story is perfectly wrapped with a bow, coming full circle and telling us without one word the value of being patient, and also showing that it’s better to give than to receive. Simply brilliant.

Daisy and the Egg by Jane Simmons

Daisy can’t wait for Mama’s egg to hatch, but she has to. She listens to the soft tap from inside the shell, and watches as her cousins struggle out of their eggs, but Mama’s egg doesn’t hatch. The illustrations are bright and lush, you can see the brush strokes of the wavy grass and the way the colors mix on their orange bills, and I love the way Simmons plays with perspective, taking us up close and then way overhead.

Mama tells Daisy that some eggs “just don’t hatch,” but Daisy wants to stay with Mama’s egg.” So patient. This story really captures longing as Daisy waits through a cold, dark night until finally, “Pip! Pip! Pip!” Her new brother struggles out! This story also captures joy. Longing from something, waiting patiently, and then joy. It’s so good.

To Make by Danielle Davis, pictures by Mags DeRoma

When a book can make an adult teary and keep a child engaged, it’s a winner. The text is so spare I read it to my grandson who isn’t yet two, and he stayed with it. On the first page there are just four words, “To make a cake,” and we see a child, hands on hips, looking at a fully stocked pantry. Turn the page, and we see this.

Turn the page, read “make,” and the next page, “wait,” with equally adorable illustrations. “To make a cake, gather, make, wait.” This pattern is followed for making a garden and a song, with a page turn for each word, and then the pattern breaks. “Keep making. Keep waiting.” Then the kids make more things until . . . can you guess what all the making has been for? The last spread is a beautiful party, and a benediction. “Because one day you will share something wonderful that only you know how to make.” Sigh. I hope it speaks to you, and the littles in your life.

The Emperor’s Egg by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Jane Chapman

The male Emperor penguin is an incredible example of patience. This is an accessible nonfiction picture book with not too much text and interspersed with a few great questions that really engage the reader. “‘Can you imagine it? Standing around in the freezing cold with an egg on your feet for two whole months?” The choice to tell as a second person narrator is great.

And why is the dad doing this? “He’s doing a Very Important Job. He’s taking care of his egg.” Mom lays the egg and then goes off to fill her belly in the sea while the dad keeps the egg warm, tucked up into his feathers and perched on his feet. He huddles up with all the other dads and they trundle along, waiting and protecting their eggs. And then, when the chick hatches, the dad actually feeds it. “Deep down in the father penguin’s throat, there’s a pouch where he makes something a little like milk.”

I never knew that! The illustrations and design are sweet and expressive, and there’s lots to learn about Emperor Penguins, and patience. When I opened it up, I saw that we inscribed it for our son back in 2005 (he was six). To Nate, who loves to learn new things, and who is faithful and true as an Emperor Penguin. So sweet.

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