Dear March, Come In: In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb by Marion Dane Bauer
MARCH COMES IN WITH A ROAR.
HE RATTLES THE WINDOWS AND SCRATCHES AT THE DOOR.
HE TURNS SNOW TO MUD, THEN TROMPS ACROSS THE FLOOR.
MARCH COMES IN WITH WINTER CLINGING TO HIS TAIL
HE SCATTERS SLEET AND SOMETIMES EVEN HAIL.
When a Newbery author and a Caldecott illustrator get together, it's a real two-fer, as with Marion Dane Bauer's new In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb (Holiday House, 2011), illustrated by the estimable Emily Arnold McCully.
Bauer and McCully rework the old saw about the month of March, with its blustery weather portrayed by a pouncy, jouncy lion, and its gentle prelude to spring by the soft, cloudlike lamb.
"WERE YOU EXPECTING SPRING?" THE LION SNICKERS.
"REACH FOR YOUR SLICKERS."
This lion is all bluff and bluster, but with just a hint of a smile on his face, as he struts about, making things generally yucky for the boy who tries to navigate the gusts and swings in temperature of that mercurious month. But the lion seems to know what's coming, and when his sneeze turns into a soft breeze, what follows are some lamblike woolly clouds, bees and butterflies, and a warm sun so seductive that even the lion curls up for a spring snooze under its charms, letting the lamb take over as the star of the turn-of-the-season show.
Bauer's poetry is humorous and her rhythm steady as she relates the story of spring's gradual arrival throughout the month, and McCully's light blackline and pastel watercolor illustrations are appropriately vernal, carrying a good share of the load in telling this spring story.
For the youngest, it is a good idea to introduce this book with a little explanation of what a simile is--an explanation of what "in like a lion" is trying to say about March weather, lest preschoolers think there really might be a lion outside their windows on March mornings. This is a good time to introduce the concept, if not the vocabulary, of metaphor and personification here by talking about how March's stormy weather is like a cranky lion and springlike days are like a soft, gentle lamb.
Preschool teachers may even tape a cutout of a lion or a lamb on each day of the March calendar as the class talks about the weather for that date. How many "lion" days does your town have in March? How many lambs?
As a lovely seasonal book and a lesson in basic poesy, In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb "fits like a glove." In fact, you might say "it's the bee's knees." (Explain that one!)