Netta and Her Plant

Ellie B. Gellman, illus. by Natascia Ugliano. Kar-Ben, $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4677-0422-9
For Tu B'Shevat, the Jewish holiday that's a combination of Earth Day and Arbor Day (although it usually falls in January or February, it's spring in Israel), everyone in Netta's preschool class is bringing home a seedling in a pot. Netta, whose name means "plant" in Hebrew, and her family (who are also referred to by their Hebrew titles, such as "Ima," for mother) are conscientious caregivers and, as book's refrain explains, "The plant grew. Netta grew." When the milestones of maturity—a big bed, a new brother, a new home, and kindergarten—feel overwhelming, Netta turns the plant into a living transitional object, comforting it as grownups comfort and encourage her. "You don't have to be afraid," she tells the plant, echoing Ima. "It will be OK, and in the new house you will have your own room." Gellman's (Jeremy's Dreidel) gentle, serious prose conveys profound respect for Netta's unwavering stewardship as well as her changing emotional states. Ugliano (Benjamin and the Silver Goblet) is very much in sync, with quietly reassuring scenes of modern Jewish family life and characters whose thoughtful, open faces exude warmth and constancy. Ages 3–8. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/23/2013
Release date: 01/01/2014
Ebook - 32 pages - 978-1-4677-2435-7
Paperback - 32 pages - 978-1-4677-0423-6
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