April is National Poetry Month, and Julie Fogliano’s When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons, with pictures by Julie Morstad, is a book of poems that makes you stop and read each one twice. They are joyful, childlike, and reflect the agonizing wait for sunshine to appear after a long winter.
Each poem is marked with a date. For instance, the poem for April 3 is an accurate depiction of a gray day after heavy rain.
the sky was too busy sulking to rain
and the sun was exhausted from trying
to wear their sadness
on the outside
and even the birds
and all their singing
inside of all that gray.
When Green Becomes Tomatoes starts and ends with the same poem on March 20 in the collection of poems categorized as “Spring.” Spring showers and daffodils gives way to “Summer,” a collection of poems focused on swimming in cool water, fireflies, and tomatoes on the vine. “Fall” is filled with leaves falling, pumpkins, and the first hints of winter. "Winter" arrives in a blanket of white with cozy poems, only to turn into spring again.
Morstad’s illustrations are so gorgeous that they would not look out of place framed on a wall. In a style that is similar to Gyo Fujikawa and Edward Gorey, Morstad’s illustrations are poetry themselves and bring Fogliano’s poems and the seasons to life.
Enjoy National Poetry Month by selecting a poem to read from When Green Becomes Tomatoes, where there is a poem for every season.
This review originally appeared in The Clarion Ledger.