Now that Memphis has had a day or two of warm weather (just enough to confuse the poor daffodils), our thoughts turn to the coming of spring.
I'll be the first to admit, I know absolutely nothing about plants. They either look pretty or get mown down in our yard. I couldn’t tell you the difference between a daisy and a Bellis Simplex if my life depended on it.
With my floral ignorance in full bloom (yes, I'm turning over a new leaf and going for the blooming puns), my 4-year-old daughter and I read Blooming Buddies In The Garden by Deborah Donner and Wendy Petersen (Pixie Land, Inc.) What's more, we read this book of verse (wait for it) — on Superbowl weekend! How manly is that?
The author and illustrator are friends who each own many acres of land and love gardening. This shared passion translates into watercolors of different flowers with personalities that come through in the illustrations and matching verse.
In each watercolor, the flowers gain expressions, by the way their petals resemble hair, or their “faces” turn to each other, or even using leaves as arms. They don't have smiley faces, mind you; it is not so anthropomorphic a children’s book that it turns them into flowery people.
But these characterizations works well with the verse, and each two-page spread is a complete unit — verse on the left, illustration on the right. This means the book doesn't have to be read all the way through in order to make sense; it is a good stop-and-start read which helps if your young one wants to take time to examine the illustrations and figure out what's going on in them.
Here's an example:
"Now that we are friends, I’m happy as can be. Even though I’m different, you saw the good in me."
If you've got a budding horticulturist; or just a child who likes being out in the garden, this might be a good read to get ready for springtime. My daughter has been known to plough through someone’s prized flower garden just to snag a common dandelion as we walk down the street. Yet despite this lack of appreciation for the finer points of gardening, she enjoyed this book.
Depending on the child’s age, it might be the colorful flower scenes rather than the verses that catches their attention, but when the book gets requests for repeat reading you know it has planted a seed somewhere!
Special Note: Today’s trivia prize goes to all of you who gasped in shock at the ignorance of someone not knowing that a daisy IS a Bellis Simplex. Smartypants.