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Jeanne Loves Books – July

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If You Plant a Seed, by Kadir Nelson

This larger-than-usual picture book has sparse text and illustrations that are large, dramatic, and wonderfully realistic. But those few words carries a big message.

Two friends – mouse and rabbit – plant carrot, tomato, and cabbage seeds. They treat them with “love and care,” and they get wonderful vegetables in their garden. When rabbit and  mouse are ready to eat their vegetables, strangers show up. Suddenly, in a wonderful double spread with no words, a big cardinal, bluebird, crow, dove and sparrow are looking right at the reader and, presumably at the vegetables (behind the reader). They are hungry, and rabbit and mouse have to decide if they will share their bounty.

At first they don’t. The story tells us that if “you plant a seed of selfishness” in no time you will have a “heap of trouble.” That trouble is shown in a two-page spread of a big scuffle between the gardeners and the birds. So rabbit and mouse try a different approach. They do share, and we read, “you plant a seed of kindness,” the fruits of kindness “will grow and grow.” The illustrations show the birds spreading seeds, and then we see a new, larger garden. The final result of kindness is “very, very sweet.” The last pages are a wonderful two-page spread of many animals and birds sharing all the vegetables in the new, bigger garden.

This is a nice retelling for young children of the idea that you reap what you sow, and it explores the reasons to choose kindness and generosity. It also greatly expands the idea of planting a seed and what that can mean.

Pop-Up Peekaboo! Things that Go – DK Publishing

This interactive flap book combines sturdy flaps and pop-ups with moving parts. This is a great combination for little ones who have trouble engaging with books. The pop-ups are colorful and fun. There is some good language like scoop, choppy, lighthouse, hot air balloon, and things to identify and talk about on each page.

Pop-Up Peekaboo! by DK is a series. In addition to Things That Go, there is Woof! Woof! (animals), Farm, Bedtime, and Meow! (kittens)

Fun with Reading

  • Discuss what is happening in the illustrations. Why is a stick poking up out of the mound where Rabbit and Mouse plant the seed?
  • The illustrations in If You Plant a Seed show a lot of emotions. Ask/Discuss what the animals appear to be feeling.
  • Notice that the tomatoes and cabbage have grown above ground – where is the carrot? Ask what other vegetables grow above and below ground.
  • There are no words on the page where the birds are shown looking at the reader. Ask what do you think they are thinking.
  • In Pop-Up Peekaboo! all the pop-ups are behind the flap. Stress the word behind to emphasize the meaning of it.
  • Where it says, Let’s look behind, pause and ask your child if they are ready to look behind. Open the flap very slowly to maintain the suspense of what is behind it.

Author: JeanneLovesBooks

Jeanne is a retired youth services librarian and the former Supervisor of Hennepin County’s Readmobile Program. The Readmobile, which is also retired, was like a Bookmobile, but dedicated to young children, which developed and provided early literacy enriched visits to Head Start Programs, Early Childhood Learning Centers, Child Care Providers and Family, Friend and Neighbor Providers. Jeanne shares literacy info about books for infants through preschoolers in her “Jeanne Loves Books” column once a month. She welcomes your feedback and suggestions for books to highlight.

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