Elem. – A Seed Grows

Portis, Antoinette. A Seed Grows. Neal Porter Books. 978-0-8234-4892-0. 32 p. $18.99. Grades K-3. 

This minimalist circle story recounts the life cycle of a sunflower for the youngest scientists. The title page features a bird with a sunflower seed in its beak. The seed falls onto the soil where the sun shines on it, and the rain waters it. It sprouts, breaks through the soil, and continues growing and growing, forming a bud, then a flower. The flower eventually fills with seeds which drop to the ground where a flock of birds finds them, completing the circle. Backmatter includes information about the parts of a seed, the parts of a sunflower plant, and additional information about what seeds need to sprout and thrive. Most double-page spreads feature a few words of text on the left side and a vibrant full-bleed illustration on the opposite page. The bright, oversize illustrations were created using different printmaking techniques, and their uncluttered simplicity reflects the beauty of the seed’s change and growth.

THOUGHTS: This will be a useful addition to primary grade units about flowers and plant life cycles. The beautiful illustrations will grab readers’ attention, and the sparse text will help emergent readers build confidence and reading fluency.

575.6 Plants          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

Elem. – Wildflower

Brown, Melanie. Wildflower. Greystone Kids, 2022. 978-1-77164-906-3. Unpaged. $17.95. PreK-2.

When Daisy blooms in the garden, she is immediately insulted by the other flowers for being a weed. She is told that she isn’t as beautiful as Rose or as tasty as Sage. Her flowers can’t make tea like Chamomile’s. Just as she begins to droop completely in shame, she meets other plants who have amazing qualities, even though they also are called weeds. For instance, Blackberry Vine makes delicious berries, and Sweet Pea smells amazing. Daisy soon realizes there is a place for everyone in the garden, no matter what they are called. Gorgeous, simplified illustrations highlight Daisy’s emotions throughout the story and provide readers with convincing representations of actual plants.

THOUGHTS: This is an adorable story with a subtle message about inclusion, self-respect, and accepting others for who they are. I also love that it incorporates educational information, including back matter about plants and weeds. Give this to fans of The Rainbow Fish (1992) or to gardening enthusiasts.

Picture Book          Julie Ritter, PSLA Member

Elem. – Have You Ever Seen a Flower?

Harris, Shawn.  Have You Ever Seen a Flower?  Chronicle Books, 2021. 978-1-432-18270-4. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades K-2.

Accompanied by a little terrier, a young child leaves a gray, gloomy city filled with skyscrapers. As the car travels along a windy road, the pair stops to investigate a field filled with row after row of pink tulips. With rainbow colored hair and a multicolored shirt, this youngster of undisclosed gender, runs around the meadow, examining the flowers closely using all five senses. The author discusses the similarities between the growth and blossoming of a flower to that of a child. Harris has used pencil and colored pencil to create his drawings. Following a similar technique used in The Wizard of Oz film, the illustrations shift from grayscale to vibrant color with the movement from city to country. Some pictures are unusual, like the image of the child smelling the flower and the daunting queen bee. When the main character pricks a finger with a rose thorn, the preceding double page spread is entirely red, which the author calls “the brilliant color of your life.” The author’s message is that life is all around us and within us.

THOUGHTS: Some children may have difficulty grasping the meaning of this story. The text ends with confusing questions: “Have you ever been a flower…would you remember…try and see,” which may be too philosophical for young readers. A supplemental purchase.

Picture Book          Denise Medwick, Retired PSLA Member