'When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons' By Julie Fogliano

Cover of When Green Becomes Tomatoes illustration of little girl in grass

As spring begins to tease with its sprouts and thunder, both young and weathered faces glow with anticipation. The intermittent reverence adults feel as a new season approaches is meager in comparison to the unbridled wonder that children experience. Morstad's watercolor illustrations, in a spectrum of colors, depict boys and girls collecting frogs, blueberries, and pumpkins--embracing the new gifts each season offers. In "When Green Becomes Tomatoes," Fogliano captures a youthful perception of the transient seasons through journal entries in verse.

The entries throughout the book vary in length, form, and complexity, which keeps readers interested. Some verses are vividly described, but simple enough for young readers to comprehend, like an August entry describing a summer day; "If you could take a bite / Out of the middle of this morning / It would be sweet / And dripping / Like peaches." Fogliano's analogy is concise but animated enough to make us yearn for those coveted summer days.

Other entries are musical and clever, like the narrator's entry on October 22; "October please / Get back in bed / Your hands are cold / Your nose is red / October please / Go back to bed / Your sneezing woke December." The playful rhymes and human depiction of October and December will surely amuse young readers, but the artistry of Fogliano's words are captivating for those at a higher reading level as well.

Fogliano's narrator inspires readers to mindfully observe everyday sights in original ways. In a February entry, the narrator writes, "With snowy arms sagging / The spruce seemed to know / That beautiful outweighs the snow." Here in Michigan, we are surrounded by snow-covered evergreens through most of the winter season. Have you ever regarded one with this level of attention? It is so easy to get consumed by the bleak chill of winter, narrowing our scope to what lies ahead.

Fogliano and Morstad's interpretation of the fun, frustrations, and fleeting presence of the seasons is fresh and enlightening. It is especially valuable to be reminded that our scenery is dynamic, beautiful, and generous, even toward winter's fickle end. "When Green Becomes Tomatoes" is a bright companion for the gray, muddy waiting of April, when we, like the narrator, think toward the clouds, "enough already."

When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano.Illustrated by Julie Morstad 56 pp. Roaring Brook Press. $18.99. (Picture book; ages 6-10)