A selection of picture books can be read and shared for spring, Earth Day and Easter. The books come from varied artists and publishers.

New blossoms begin to appear, birds commence their nesting and the earth renews with warm days. Easter (April 20) and Earth Day (April 22) can be celebrated with picture books that applaud the joys of spring. ***** Spring "THE START OF SPRING," based on works of Beatrix Potter, F. Warne & Co./ Penguin, $9.99 (ages 3-6) It is the first day of spring at Hilltop Farm and all the animals find excitement in Jemima Puddle-duck's new eggs about to hatch. But two adversaries also seem excited - Samuel Whiskers, the rat who steals eggs, and the fox, Mr. Tod, who could relish a rabbit for a meal. Young readers will discover the cleverness of the farmyard animals as they defeat the foe and plan a party to celebrate a new hatchling. Beatrix Potter fans will welcome a new adventure from her beloved animal friends. "SPRINGTIME BABY," by Elise Broach, illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld, Little, Brown Kids Publishing, $7.99 (ages 0-3) This is a board book that's just right for the tiny hands of those who will discover hidden spring surprises beneath seven lift-the-flap pictures. "Springtime Baby" should become a favorite for spring and throughout the year. "HAVE YOU HEARD THE NESTING BIRD?" by Rita Gray, illustrated by Kenard Pak, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99 (nf) (ages 4-8) It's not unusual to hear a variety of bird songs on a spring day: the crow calling "caw! caw!" the sparrow with its "chiddik! chiddik!" the woodpecker calling "cuk-cuk!" and the starling "whistle-ee-wee-tree!" The nesting bird sits waiting for her eggs to hatch, "not a single tweet or trill, The nesting bird was still!" Rita Gray's bird-song rhyming verses are coupled with graceful watercolor illustrations that connote easy understanding. A back section cleverly takes the form of "A Word With a Bird," a question-and-answer about robins' behavior. "Have You Heard the Nesting Bird?" should become a year-long favorite for bird-watching and listening. Craig Shuttlewood asks "WHO'S IN THE TREE?" (Sterling Publishers, $12.95). Actually it's who's in the tree, bush, air and outer space as young readers lift the flaps and find animals in the wrong places, such as a lion in an igloo. Lots of giggles will come from the read-it-again question game. "OLIVER'S TREE," by Kit Chase, Penguin, $16.99 (ages 3-5) When three best friends - Oliver elephant, Lulu owlet and Charlie bunny - want to climb trees, the problem is apparent. Oliver can't climb a tree of any size. True friendship kicks in when Lulu and Charlie find a way for Oliver to have a special tree. The pastel sequenced pictures in Chase's debut picture book are so complete that a child should be able to tell the story without any help. "SUPERWORM," by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler, Scholastic/Authur A. Levin Books, $16.99 (ages 4-6) Baby toad in the middle of the road? Superworm comes to the rescue. Bees feeling bored? Superworm finds a new game to play. Beetle falls in the well? Superworm becomes a fishing line to get him out. "Hip, Hip, Hooray for SUPERWORM!" But lurking in the shadows is Wizard Lizard who sees the value of Superworm and sends his servant, crow, to fetch the wiggling hero. In true forest adventure, Superworm's friends save him from becoming dinner-fare. Julia Donaldson's clever couplets set the stage for the action-packed menagerie of humorous animals in all kinds of spring activities. ***** Earth Day The following three picture books would be appropriate to celebrate Earth Day. "THE GREAT BIG GREEN," by Peggy Gifford, illustrations by Lisa Desimini, Boyds Mills, $15.95 (ages 4-7) "The Great Big Green" is chock-full of green things. In recognition of the color, verses tell of green turtles in green ponds, green moths, tiger-eye green and greens that are good for eating. Gifford never tells what she is describing but the implied "what is it?" looms through highly imaginative illustrations of green mixed-media collages. The artist shares her scanning techniques, which add another depth of interest to the green of our world. "PARROTS OVER PUERTO RICO," by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore, collages by Susan L. Roth, Lee & Low, $19.95 (nf) (all ages) This is the history of Puerto Rico and the rare parrots (iguaca) that inhabited the island's tree tops for millions of years before nearly becoming extinct. The parrots became prey to settlers and their animals during the 1500s. Trees where the parrots nested were cut for lumber. Over the years, the parrot populations dwindled to only 24 birds in 1967. In 1968, the governments of the U.S. and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico created a recovery program to save the birds. "Parrots Over Puerto Rico" is not only a fascinating recovery story, the book is illustrated with thousands of paper and fabric collages and is spectacular. Included are photographs of the project, time lines and extended bibliography. "MYSTERIOUS PATTERNS: Finding Fractals in Nature," by Sarah C. Campbell, photographs by Sarah C. Campbell and Richard P. Campbell, Boyds Mills, $16.95 (nf) (ages 5-7) An important part of Earth Day is observing the beauties of the world and appreciating the intricacies of nature. This husband and wife team explains the mathematical concept of fractals in basic terms ("Every fractal shape has smaller parts that look like the whole shape"). Stunning full-color photos of tree branches, broccoli parts and patterns on a leaf enhance the book. Veins and arteries of the human living heart are examples of fractals in a more personal way. Background information about Benoit Mandelbrot, who is credited with naming these shapes and patterns in nature, provides an element of math understanding. Also of interest is the authors' "Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature." ***** Easter/spring "HERE COMES THE EASTER CAT," by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Claudia Rueda, Dial, $16 (ages 3-5) Cat sets his aim at becoming the Easter Bunny and picks a bright red motorcycle - naturally a big one - for delivering the Easter eggs. Cat's dialogue and emotions are portrayed only through hand and body gestures and placards to an unseen audience. It's just right for the young reader to figure out the conversation. The ending suggests that Cat has his whiskers ready for a new job this winter and a small sketch of a cat in a beard and red hat gives away the choice. Another feline that wants to be the Easter Bunny is "PETE THE CAT: Big Easter Adventure," by Kimberly Dean and James Dean (Harper, $9.99, ages 4-8). Pete, wearing a cottony-white tail and big bunny ears, decides to lend the Easter Bunny a hand as holiday preparations begin. After he finds, paints and hides the eggs, he's rewarded with "#1 Helper" ribbon for his efforts. What makes "Pete the Cat" special are the stickers, a fold-out poster and detachable Easter cards that can be mailed to friends. "CUCKOO!" by Fiona Robertson, Putnam Juvenile, $16.99 (ages 3-5) It's exciting when Cuckoo hatches, but when his brothers and sisters welcome him with "Too-too-weet! Too-too-weet!" cuckoo answers "cuckoo!" which no one can understand at all. "Cuckoo was different." In search of others that he could converse with, he tries "coomooing" "muckroo" and "Gribkickit!" In a surprise conclusion, Cuckoo finds someone who understands his chirps. "Cuckoo" is on target as a family story when baby's first words are just being tried. "TWO BUNNY BUDDIES," by Kathryn O. Galbraith, illustrated by Joe Cepeda, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99 (ages 4-8) When two bunny friends can't agree on a path to take, they split up and the name-calling begins, "Carrot Head!" "Beetle Brain!" They each discover delicious berries and clover and sharing them becomes a better option than staying mad, especially during nap time. These bunnies and the lesson they exhibit are great for conflict resolutions. "I HATCHED!" by Jean Esbaum and Jen Corace, Dial, $16.99 (3-6) "Ta da! My head pokes through. At last, I'm hatched." A baby chick explores his world and begins imitating the critters he discovers on his explorations of a new world. Around every rock and tree there's a surprise, and the best one goes "crack" as a new baby sister hatches. Jen Corace's pastel watercolors and ink drawings provide an abundance of clues that should invite many re-tellings.%3Cimg%20src%3D%22http%3A//beacon.deseretconnect.com/beacon.gif%3Fcid%3D154671%26pid%3D46%22%20/%3E