cover image The World’s Best Class Plant

The World’s Best Class Plant

Audrey Vernick and Liz Garton Scanlon, illus. by Lynnor Bontigao. Putnam, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-525-51635-4

A “mostly green, hardly growing” spider plant provides classroom 109 with a lesson about keeping an open mind in this amiable botanical picture book by Vernick and Garton Scanlon. Student Arlo, portrayed with tan skin, feels disappointed that his teacher insists on flora for a class pet, but the whole class’s perception of the potted pet’s merits shifts with the bestowal of a name: Jerry. Soon, everyone is wild about the leafy subject, and Bontigao’s realistically cartooned digital art playfully demonstrates the kids’ growing care and fascination, building to a festive schoolwide Jerry Appreciation Day. As the year progresses and then wraps up, the teacher (whose name has meaningfully shifted for Arlo from “Mr. Boring” to “Mr. Perfect”) offers a fitting send-off, and the narrative concludes by jumping forward to the next school year’s classroom, where Arlo’s growth is tested by another unlikely “pet.” The child’s transformation from disengaged to open-minded offers an encouraging picture of students blooming intellectually and emotionally through care. Plant info concludes. Ages 3–7. (May)