cover image Prunella


Beth Ferry, illus. by Claire Keane. Simon & Schuster, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-6659-2173-2

Like her parents, young Prunella is a gifted gardener, but the child’s botanical tastes are a world apart. Born with a purple thumb, she favors fungi over ferns, cultivates a patch of poison ivy, and loves anything “strange and curious,” including “bladderworts, porcupine tomatoes, and corpse flowers.” Prunella loves her odd garden, and her somewhat puzzled parents nevertheless fuel her passion, but her interests leave neighborhood peers “not only nervous but nauseated”; it all leads to isolation that finds Prunella perceived as “persnickety” and “prickly.” Then one day, a boy walks into her garden, asks genuinely interested questions, and introduces Prunella to an entire community of passionate kid botanists (plus a mycologist and one junior entomologist), who clamor for her wisdom and enthusiasm. As Prunella’s defenses melt, she feels a “tiny seed inside” that “sprouted and stretched and soared.” Alliterative prose by Ferry (The Christmassy Cactus) and digital artwork by Keane (Make Way), rendered in luxuriant, jewel-toned colors and balletic, inky lines, prove as lovely as a warted puffball as they chronicle Prunella’s journey from isolation to connection—the protagonist’s sense of relief at finally finding her people is palpable and deeply reassuring. A glossary provides additional information about mentioned species. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Elena Giovinazzo, Pippin Properties. Illustrator’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (July)