When dear friends Sheree Fitch and Deb Plestid came together to create their new children’s book, Sing in the Spring!, it was a long time coming. Fitch waited more than five years to approach Plestid with a project she felt was worthy of her art. Fitch reflects, “I wanted a children’s book that showcased the work of women’s hands.” While the book began as a way to feature Plestid’s garden, Fitch soon recognized that the scope was too big and she needed to scale back. “I realized the book was meant to be about transition, and that’s when I gained clarity about the project.”
A stunning book for children and adults alike, Sing in the Spring! (Nimbus Publishing, March) is arranged in poetic vignettes that celebrate the sounds, sights, smells, and textures of spring, all punctuated by delightful quilt illustrations. Fitch reminds us why she’s a master of language – each stanza sings with enjambment, rhythm, and alliteration. Words like “mudlicious” leap off the page to delight the reader. The text mirrors the messy magic of nature and a child’s wonder at experiencing spring as if for the first time: “Can you smell the sky in my shirt?”
Plestid’s quilt illustrations echo this playfulness. “When an adult looks at a June bug, it’s just a June bug. When a child looks at a June bug, the June bug is everything,” she says. Plestid increased the scale of her subject matter to demonstrate this sense of wide-eyed wonderment.
In a world of instant gratification, Sing in the Spring! is a reminder that patience and silence are vital steps toward transformation. “We are turning from winter to spring – journeying out of the dark into the light – and from cold to warmth, from the beige-ness of the world to the greening of the world,” says Fitch.
Plestid agrees. “We’re always going through transformative times, and every piece of work I do is about that – what have I learned, what challenges have come forward, what was I scared of, and at what point was I able to leap in?”
Due to pandemic-related delays, Plestid had a tight timeline that required her to create a quilt and a half each month, which makes it even more mesmerizing to observe the fine details in each of her pieces, from shadows to little surprises that compel a double take. Plestid let intuition guide her, choosing materials according to what each piece required: combinations of cotton, dye, fibres, oil paint, Fimo, resin, and glue.
“My hope for this book is that we remember to slow down and respect the natural world while having gratitude for the earth and, in turn, gratitude for ourselves,” says Plestid.
Fitch adds, “As long as I keep creating, I know I can keep falling in love with the world. … I’m not writing a book; I’m offering what I can.”
One can only hope that Sing in the Spring! is the first offering in a series of celebrations of the seasons.