Growing Season (Maryann Cocca-Leffler)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Growing Season by Maryann Cocca-Leffler, a sweet tale of friendship and flowers.

El and Jo are the best of friends. The smallest kids in their class, they find that when together, they’re just the right size: the right size for their cozy little desks, and for sharing the reading chair, and for helping each other reach the high places. But when spring comes, Jo suddenly sprouts a few inches… and now El is all alone in being small. When class ends for the year, the students each choose one of the flowers they’ve grown to take home and care for over the summer. All the other kids reach over El to pick the ones with lovely blossoms, leaving her with a spiny little green aster. Jo offers her colorful zinnias (she’ll be traveling over summer), and El plants them side-by-side in the garden , “so they can be best friends”. All summer long, El tends the flowers while she and Jo write letters back and forth, and when summer ends, the girls are ecstatic to be reunited. Rushing to check on their flowers, they find that the slow-blooming aster has finally revealed stunning purple blossoms, and looking at each other, they come to realize that the flowers are not the only things that have grown.

A lovely, gentle tale of female friendship. Framing a spring and summer of growth around the plants, Cocca-Leffler deftly weaves in themes of feeling inadequate, how friendships can change and evolve as we grow, and having patience with ourselves with a great sense of subtlety and softness. Her delicate, spring-colored illustrations fit perfect with both these themes and the story, and allow Jo and El especially to show a lot of emotion in an expression or a pose. Backmatter features a short look at the different life cycles of plants, the length is great for any age, and JJ really liked it. A wonderful reminder that, while it may take a little longer sometimes, we are all meant to bloom. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this books was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

What Will Grow? (Jennifer Ward)

Hello, everyone! Our book today is What Will Grow?, written by Jennifer Ward and illustrated by Susie Ghahremani, a sweet look at how different types of seeds grow into plants, flowers, and trees.

Told in short rhymes, each page shows the journey of each unique type of seed: from the seed itself to a sprout, then ultimately to the grown plant it will become. The rhyme describes each little seed (from flat, oval pumpkin seeds to hard acorns), asking the reader to guess “what will grow?”, sometimes utilizing fold-out pages to show the more grand or surprising plants and trees. It ends with an appendix that shows each seed type, their maturation rate, and how seeds take root to become plants.

This was a cool and very informative book. Its simple couplet rhymes make it a quick read, and the detailed illustrations of each seed and plant are both educational and filled with color and whimsy to enchant little readers. I loved that animals were included on each page as well: it gives the a book an extra teaching element for readers learning their woodland critters. The fold-out pages were great, though I wish they had been more consistently used throughout (only a fraction of the plants introduced used them, and they were great for upping the suspense of what plant was growing). But overall, this was a fantastic book for teaching young readers about how plants grow, biodiversity, and all the possibility that can be held in one little seed. Baby Bookworm approved!

Samson In The Snow (Philip C. Stead)

Hello, everyone! Our book today is Samson In The Snow by Philip C. Stead, a beautiful tale about kindness and friendship.

Samson the woolly mammoth spends each sunny day tending to his dandelion patch, content but alone. One day, a little red bird flits by and asks if she may have a few flowers to cheer up her friend. Her friend is having a bad day, she explains, and yellow is his favorite color. Samson kindly provides three of his best flowers to the grateful bird, and watches as she flies off, wondering what it might be like to have a friend. He dozes off, and wakes to find a terrible blizzard has blown in while he slept. Fearing for the safety of the bird, he sets off to find her, leading him on an adventure that tests his will and shows his kindness, and even ends in a few new friendships.

This is a gorgeous book that combines sweeping, majestic visuals with delicate details and a simply sweet story. Samson is a pure and good-natured character whose openness and warmth is rewarded with friendship, which is told refreshingly without cynicism or negativity. The length is good for baby bookworms, though it may push the patience of the very young due to the longer text and subdued colors: though these elements fit perfectly in the theme of the book, very young babies may not find it stimulating enough. That being said, JJ loved it and was excited through the entire read. Lovely book with a lovely message, and Baby Bookworm approved!

Flowers Are Calling (Rita Gray)

Hello friends! Today, we read Flowers Are Calling, written by Rita Gray and illustrated by Kenard Pak, a beautiful and informative book about flowers and pollinators! Told in a combination of playful rhymes and nonfiction blurbs, each page introduces different species of flowers and the individual pollinators (like bees, hummingbirds, and even bats) they attract.

This book was packed full of really interesting information about flowers that even I didn’t know, and I really loved how it explained pollinators and how important they are to the ecosystem. Furthermore, the illustrations were absolutely gorgeous, and JJ really liked them. However, while she loved the rhyming pages, the informational pages did not hold her attention as easily, and she started to get bored near the end of the book. So, this one may not be the best for the younger reader (unless you only read the rhyming pages, which you absolutely could!), an older reader, especially one who loves plants and flowers, would adore this. So overall, Baby Bookworm approved!

The Boy Who Grew Flowers (Jen Wojtowicz)

Summer Reading Day 86: Hello everyone! Today we read The Boy Who Grew Flowers, written by Jen Wojtowicz and illustrated by Steve Adams! This is a sweet love story about being different, finding that special person who is different like you, and being strange and unique together. 

Rink is a little boy who comes from a family of loving, yet strange, people. Rink himself has his own peculiarity: every full moon, flowers grow all over his body. He is quiet and shy, and the other children at school avoid him because of this and his unusual family. One day, he meets Angelina, a new girl at school, someone who is curious and kind and has her own things that make her different. Rink decides to make a gesture of friendship, and finds that he and Angelina have more in common than either realized.

JJ really enjoyed this book! It was a lot longer than I had expected, perhaps even too long for most one-year-olds, but it managed to hold her attention for the duration of the book (even more impressive considering there were four other babies in the room at the time, too). The pictures were lovely and dreamlike, and the story is a lovely allegory for finding a person in life whose strangeness compliments your own. We really enjoyed it. Baby Bookworm approved!