Poetry Friday: Waking Sister Spring

h1 March 20th, 2009 by jules

“Robin flew closer. The heat made it hard to breathe. He winced as the feathers on his belly caught fire. His plain brown belly turned a bright orange-red.

As quickly as he could, Robin grabbed the morning light
and headed back to the forest.”

* * * Debbie Ouellet, How Robin Saved Spring* * *

* * * * * * *

I’m so happy Spring has sashayed through the door today — with her head held high and a bouquet in hand. There are things I really love and appreciate about Winter, but generally I don’t think I’d survive well anywhere where it’s mostly cold for most of the time. Unless I’m inside with hot chocolate or a steaming cup of coffee in hand, I tend to merely abide Winter quietly (perhaps not-so-quietly, if you ask my husband, who would be happy living on the arctic tundra, I think). Beautiful snowfalls are a real joy and make all the cold worth it, but we don’t get a lot of those in Tennessee.

These illustrations today are from poet and author Debbie Ouellet’s new title, How Robin Saved Spring, to be released at the end of this month by Henry Holt, and I share this battle-of-the-seasons tale (in which Spring triumphs, of course — aw snap snap) in celebration of today, the first day of Spring.

Remember in April of last year when Italian illustrator Nicoletta Ceccoli stopped by one Sunday to share some art work — and pretty much left me speechless? She’s illustrated this new title, an original pourquoi tale of sorts, which presents—“{l}ong ago, in a little cottage”—Lady Winter and Sister Spring, pictured below. They’re sisters, and when it’s time for Lady Winter to step aside for Spring, she’s altogether too reluctant. Knitting a cold white blanket for Sister Spring, Lady Winter creeps into her room and places it over her sister, making it so that she dozes a bit longer than the nine months she normally sleeps aways. Robin sees all this and calls upon the forest creatures to help save Spring, in more ways than one. Bear tries and fails; Lady Winter puts a sleeping blanket over him as well, and he falls into his own deep sleep in a cave. Ladybug tries and burns little black spots on her back while trying to hide from Lady Winter under some warm cinders. Skunk, initially stripe-less, tries and earns himself his tell-tale white back stripe when Lady Winter runs her hand across his back, creating “a band of snow-white frost…where it touched Skunk’s fur.” When Robin tries to trick Lady Winter and flies to the sun for some light for waking Sister Spring, you can see in the opening illustration how that goes — and how he gets his red breast. In fact, the entire narrative answers this question: Why do we never find a robin in Winter?

I love Nicoletta’s art something fierce. She captivates. Enjoy these few spreads, and I’ll close this Poetry Friday post with one of Ouellet’s poems about Queen Anne’s Laces, (which my mother once told me my grandmother used to love). I believe they tend to flower in June and continue on until October. That’s to say: They’re not so much Spring blooms. But in celebration of Spring’s arrival today and the flowers to-be-seen on into the Summer, we’ll take in Ouellet’s ode to Queen Anne’s Laces, originally published in Tickled by Thunder’s Best of 2005.

I hope that where you are it’s as warm and lovely as it is here, near Nashville. Daffodils. They’ve arrived!

The Poetry Friday round-up today is being hosted by one of my favorite people, Elaine Magliaro, over at Wild Rose Reader.

“She crept into Sister Spring’s room and gently placed the blanket over her sister. ‘So long as you wear this, you will sleep.’ Lady Winter brushed a stray lock of hair from Sister Spring’s forehead. ‘Sleep well, little sister.'”

“Slap! Tap! Rap! Maple Tree banged on the cottage window as hard as he could. ‘Surely, this will wake Sister Spring,’ he said.

Lady Winter shook her head slowly. ‘You will cry for this,’ she promised. ‘Sweet tears for others to drink.’ She sang another song, this time high-pitched and syrupy.

Soon Maple Tree felt the sugary tears start to fall.
They flowed and oozed out of his trunk.”

“…Sister Spring found Caterpillar and unwrapped the yarn. She gave him beautiful colored wings to thank him for his bravery. She dried Maple Tree’s tears.”

* * * * * * *

Spreads from HOW ROBIN SAVED SPRING: © 2009 by Debbie Ouellet. Illustration © 2009 Nicoletta Ceccoli. Published by Christy Ottaviano Books, an imprint of Henry Holt. New York, NY. All rights reserved.

16 comments to “Poetry Friday: Waking Sister Spring”

  1. Oh, Nicoletta Ceccoli has some seriously gorgeous imaginings that she brings to life on paper. Lovely, lovely. And what a story.

    She’s not awake yet, but everyone is trying really hard…

    I have a Queen Anne’s Lace flower under glass that I wear as a choker. An artisan I met made it years ago, and even though in Northern Cal it’s pretty much a weed, I love it — the name, the almost-end-of-summer-ness of it, and now this poem — love drunk bees and parasols — just clinches it. Lovely!

  2. Ooh! That looks like a lovely book. Winter putting the blanket over Sister Spring. Brrrr!

    It’s sunny here and I was thinking of robins today, too. Nicoletta’s art is wonderful.

  3. Oooo, luscious spring…

    What a dreamy post. Thanks.

  4. This delightful book by Debbie Ouellet, has been a long time coming. Debbie’s talent is obvious and deserves applause.

    Thanks for sharing this with us.


  5. Such gorgeous pictures. I love those leaves and branches twining through Spring’s hair on the pillow.

    Tanita! You have a QA’s necklace! I’m jealous.

  6. Believe it or not, we used to have Queen Anne’s lace growing like crazy in NJ. (Maybe they still do, I dunno.) One of those flowers you can’t stop looking at, as long as you’re looking at the flower per se and not the stem (which is actually sort of… mundane). I do like this poem a lot — thanks for posting it!

    (Doesn’t hurt, not at all, that it’s headed by all that lush, lavish artwork.)

    As for springtime in general, while autumn is my own favorite, it IS hard not to get caught up in all the bursting-forth, isn’t it? We have an annual celebration here, imaginatively enough dubbed “Springtime,” which fetes the one- to two-week little chunk of the calendar during which it’s neither too hot nor too cold to get outdoors for more than a couple hours at a time. 🙂

  7. I woke up to snow this morning.


    It is bright and sunny today, though. That’s something.

  8. Oo that is lovely! Can’t wait to get that book in our library. I have always loved Queen Anne’s Lace. One thing I learned young is that it doesn’t do so well after being picked. Looks best along the road or in the field mixed with poppies and chicory.

  9. Welcome to spring, everyone!

    What beautiful artwork. I especially like the Lady Winter & Sister Spring panel.

  10. Such stunningly beautiful artwork. Just breathtaking!
    Happy spring – we had rain yesterday, but sunshine today!

  11. How Robin Saved Spring sounds interesting!

    I miss spring. It is summer all year round here. I miss that perfect balance of warm and cool weather….

  12. We named our first golden retriever, Queen Anne’s Lace, and called her Annie. She definitely loved the open fields and sweet drenching rain.

    Stunningly beautiful artwork. The gentleness of each picture is amazing. Thank you for sharing.

  13. That big sun–gorgeous. And I love the maple tree outside the house. Yum. Thank you for starting my day this way!

  14. […] going to close today with a poem from Debbie Ouellet. (Remember this?) This comes from Earth to the Moon, a poetry anthology (Hidden Brook Press, April 2009), which […]

  15. Подскажите, кого я могу спросить?

  16. Хм, интересно, спасибо. Подписалась на RSS )

Leave a Comment

Should you have trouble posting, please contact sevenimp_blaine@blaine.org. Thanks.