“If You Hold a Seed” by Elly MacKay is a gently inspiring story about patience and possibility, and how if you have the former and embrace the latter – your wishes can come true. The story unfolds against a luminous backdrop of unique illustrations.
We originally selected “If You Hold a Seed” for March because growing season is just beginning in our neck of the woods (we actually did some planting ourselves just yesterday). In Ms. MacKay’s book, a little boy plants a seed, makes a wish, waits for something extraordinary to happen…and it does. The story introduces us to all the things a seed needs to thrive – sunlight, rain, insects spreading “magic”, and time. With the help of all of these things, season after season the little boy’s seed slowly grows into a tree that is big enough to be a part of his wish coming true. The growth of the seed is a metaphor for the way in which the little boy’s wish is planted in his heart; with patience and care, his wish grows inside him until it becomes reality.
Ms. MacKay’s pictures and words conspire to convey a sense of wonder. We were immediately struck by the originality of the illustrations in this book; we hadn’t seen anything quite like it. The pages appear to be decorated with layers of paper cutouts, but there is richness to the color, and an overall depth to the pictures that hints at something more. As we discovered upon Googling Ms. MacKay, her illustrations are actually photographs of carefully constructed, multi-layered dioramas. She calls it “creating miniature worlds inside a tiny theater.” You can watch a video about this particular book and her artistic process here: http://tinyurl.com/j4fr732. It’s pretty amazing and provides some further insights that made us appreciate this book all the more.