cover image If You Hold a Seed

If You Hold a Seed

Elly MacKay. Running Press Kids, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7624-4721-3

Glowing paper dioramas are the heart and soul of MacKay’s debut, a quiet, reader-directed contemplation of a seed’s slow growth into a tree. In spirit, the story is similar to Julie Fogliano and Erin Stead’s And Then It’s Spring, though the execution is very much MacKay’s own. A small boy first plants the seed, then watches the sapling grow as the seasons pass. With his yellow rubber raincoat and translucent umbrella on a rainy spring day, he looks as though he could have been cut from a vintage greeting card. Patterned and diaphanous papers add depth and texture—in winter, the boy gazes out at the snow from inside a cozy room lined with grapevine wallpaper; on a summer night, his tent is lit from within, the tree now big enough to tower over it. Eventually, the boy becomes a man and the sapling a full-fledged tree (“Season by season,/ Year by year.../ That tree will grow SO LARGE/ It will hold you”), cementing MacKay’s message about the value of persistence. Ages 3–up. Agent: Kirsten Hall, the Bright Group. (Feb.)