A Seed Grows

Antoinette Portis. Holiday House/Porter, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8234-4892-0

Employing spare language and sunny, stippled multimedia spreads that belie their quiet complexity, Portis gracefully traces a sunflower’s cycle from seed to sprout to plant—and back again. On each page, a term on the verso corresponds in hue with an image on the recto, focusing the reader’s attention on a single visual component. The word seed, for example, written in black, attends the arrival of a striped black sunflower shell at right (“A seed falls”). A page turn later, a brown-hued soil faces its referent, in which the seed nestles. And the font size of a bright green grows enlarges over several spreads as the seedling does the same. But the pages offer much more than an experiential play-by-play for youngest readers. In addition to incorporating mention of the seedling’s early needs (soil, sun, rain) and maturation phases (bud, flower, seed), text and image hint at the plant’s external effects (for those who “nest in the leaves// in the tops of trees”)—and, poignantly, its place as participant in the natural world. It’s a volume almost as jam-packed as a seed itself. Contextualizing back matter concludes. Ages 3–6. (June)
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