Tag Archives: planting

Day 154 – From Seed to Plant

For June 2, we read another book from that prolific purveyor of “infotainment”: Gail Gibbons. “From Seed to Plant” was actually left over from our May theme of seeds and planting – but better late than never! Today’s selection, in true Gail Gibbons fashion, is full of colorful and informative illustrations that help to explain a real-life subject in an engaging way that pulls little listeners right in.

seed to plantIn “From Seed to Plant”, Ms. Gibbons introduces readers to a wide variety of seeds and to some of the flowers that grow from those seeds. There are informative drawings of plant anatomy and examples of the different and innovative ways in which seeds have adapted in order to travel from their source – such as being carried by squirrels, attaching themselves to someone’s pant leg, or floating on the wind. Aspiring gardeners will be inspired by Ms. Gibbon’s explanation of how seeds sprout into new plants, and her “From Seed to Plant” project for growing your own bean plant.

Once again, we turned to Ms. Gibbons for an entertaining and educational “real-world” picture book, and once again she came through with flying colors! Thank you, Ms. Gibbons.

Day 132 – Planting a Rainbow

If you have been following us you may have noticed that we are running a little bit behind on our book reviews…but bear with us – we have plenty of reviews yet to post and we will eventually get caught up…some time before the end of the summer! So – where was I? Ah, here we go…
In keeping with our “May Flowers” theme, on May 11 we read “Planting a Rainbow” by Lois Ehlert, a simple but charming book about growing flowers in every color of the rainbow. Before reading, however, you should be prepared: vibrantly illustrated with Ms. Ehlert’s trademark collages, “Planting a Rainbow” is an inspiring introduction to gardening for little listeners who may start making plans for you to help them create their own rainbow.rainbow
From the opening line (“Every year Mom and I plant a rainbow”) I expect little ones will be hooked; planting your very own rainbow?!? Awesome! Ms. Ehlert then walks readers through the year-long process. There are bulbs to be planted in the fall…including tulips, tigerlily, hyacinth, and crocus. There are seeds to be ordered during the winter and sown in spring…including zinnia, aster, morning glory, and cornflower. And, while you wait for those to sprout, there are seedlings to be purchased at the nursery to be transplanted in your garden…including poppy, delphinium, roses, and carnations. With sunshine and proper care, eventually you earn the payoff: all summer long, there are flowers to be picked to make rainbow after rainbow!
We had fun reading this book together. I particularly enjoyed reading out some of the more interesting flower names (delphinium…hyachinth…zinnia…I’m easily entertained). If you are not familiar with the pronunciations, you may be able to find a video dramatization online – we were able to access one through our local library’s Web site.
“Planting a Rainbow” can be a quick read, but it’s exactly the kind of book that little ones will want to pick up later and read to themselves if it’s left within reach!

Day 130 – Planting the Wild Garden

In keeping with our May theme of flowers and pollinators this evening, we read “Planting the Wild Garden” by Kathryn O. Galbraith and illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin. It’s really quite a good story about all the ways in which wild seeds are spread about the “wild meadow garden” of the world around us, including several of, what were for me, revelations about some of the ways in which seeds might be spread. It was one more beautifully illustrated example of natural world “info-tainment” for our Storybook Year.

wildThe book begins with a farmer and her son planting seeds in the garden, but reminds us that “many seeds (in the wild meadow) are planted too, but not by farmers’ hands.” There is, of course, the wind blowing seeds far from home (“oooooo-whishhh”), and goldfinches (“per–chik-o-ree!”) who knock seeds from plants when they land…or eat them and poop them out later. The Scotch broom pops seeds into the air from pods, rain knocks seeds loose, streams carry them, squirrels bury acorns – some of which are lost and grow into great oaks, and several different kinds of animals may carry them in their fur as they amble or skitter through the meadow. And then, of course, there are people who (“stomp stomp”) pick up seeds on their boots and sweaters or simply blow them free while making wishes on dandelions. Everyone – animal and human alike – work together to keep the wild meadow garden flourishing.

Ms. Galbraith’s language in the book is simple and accessible, and the repeated use of onomatopoeia adds entertainment value to the read-aloud experience. We also really enjoyed the illustrations which are laid out almost like a collage or gallery on several pages – showing various stages of the process described in the writing. My favorite picture was the rabbit gnawing on some tall grass…as a fox watches in the background. This was a lot of fun to read and share, and the book fit perfectly with our May themes.


Day 80 – and then it’s spring

In honor of the first day of spring today we read a whimsical, wonderful book about a little boy and his animal friends waiting for the season to start. The story begins with the little boy, his scarf blowing in the wind and his nose red from the cold, looking into the distance across a barren brown landscape: “First you have brown, all around you have brown…” The text (“First you have…”), the boy’s distant gaze, and the expectant tilt of his dog’s head convey a sense of anticipation…something is coming.spring

Eager to help spring arrive as soon as possible, the boy plants seeds…and he waits. He inspects his handiwork…and he waits. He sits in his little red wagon and fears that his seeds have been devoured by fat little birds or stomped by clumsy bears…and he waits. He sets out bird feeders and hangs a tire swing…and he waits. Meanwhile, underground there is a riot of activity…a “greenish hum” which you can hear “if you put your ear to the ground and close your eyes.” And eventually, one day he walks out and all that brown isn’t around…instead “all around you have green.”

“and then it’s spring” by author Julie Fogliano and illustrator Erin E. Stead is a sweet and lovely book which we thoroughly enjoyed – in English and then in a Spanish translation as well. primaveraLike Kevin Henkes’ “Waiting”, “and then it’s spring” does a marvelous job of combining limited but well-chosen prose with beautifully detailed and subtly humorous artwork to effectively capture what I imagine waiting must feel like through the eyes of a child. We were particularly fond of Ms. Stead’s drawings: the little boy’s confident and determined posture as he pulls his wagon full of gardening supplies, the haphazard arrangement of seed mounds in the little boy’s garden, the little animal vignettes taking place all around him, and especially the small variations from page to page that hint of the coming change in seasons. I recommend reading the book once through to get the flow of Ms. Fogliano’s text first, followed by a slower second pass to truly savor all the fascinating and funny details Ms. Stead has managed to work into every page.

 

 


Day 69 – If You Hold a Seed

“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.Hold a Seed

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.