Miss Maple’s Seeds

Eliza Wheeler. Penguin/Paulsen, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-25792-6
Confident artistry and an intuitive knowledge of what the world looks like to a very small person make a winning combination in Wheeler’s debut. Miss Maple is a grandmotherly, Borrowers-sized woman who adopts “orphan seeds that got lost during the spring planting.” Dressed in a big straw hat and a billowing skirt, she marshals bluebirds to collect the seeds in baskets on their backs, finds leaf boats to take the seeds on field trips “to learn about being a seed,” befriends woodland animals to pass the winter days around the hearth with, then sets the seeds free from a bough high in the air: “Take care, my little ones, for the world is big and you are small. But never forget.” Careful observation of seeds (including a labeled seed chart), leaves, and plants gives the artwork substance, and Japanese woodblock–style skies that fade to sunset hues provide a wistful emotional overlay. Wheeler has clearly had a good time inventing fairy-house fixtures for Miss Maple: flower lantern boats and hollow-log houses make one yearn to escape our big, unwieldy world and inhabit hers. Ages 3–5. Agent: Jennifer Rofé, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/2013
Release date: 04/04/2013
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