Tag Archives: seed

Celebrating a Storybook Year – May

After April Showers come…May flowers! For May we read more books about rain and the water cycle, but added in books on seeds, plants and flowers. We found several wonderful books for Mothers’ Day – some touching, some amusing, all great for read-aloud! We also read a powerful and poignant book for Memorial Day.

may2As you might imagine, given the subject matter, we found some beautifully illustrated selections this month. It’s fun to look at the collage and think about all the amazing books we have uncovered – or rediscovered – this year.

But I digress…we have seven more months to go!

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.