Review of A Seed Grows

A Seed Grows A Seed Grows
by Antoinette Portis; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary    Porter/Holiday    40 pp.    g
6/22    978-0-8234-4892-0    $18.99
e-book ed.  978-0-8234-5307-8    $11.99

With her latest science-focused picture book, Portis (Hey, Water!, rev. 3/19) continues to introduce very young readers and listeners to the wonders of nature. Here she details the life cycle of a sunflower in ten sequential steps. Each left-hand page features a single phrase (“a seed falls” / “and settles in the soil”), with the ­facing page showing a bright, uncluttered ­illustration mirroring the action. The story’s climax—the blossoming of a flower—is shown in a gorgeous vertical spread that lifts up to announce this glorious event. The patterned text creates an internal rhythm pleasant to hear, while the single phrases on each line help emergent readers focus on both the flow and meaning of the words. Key words (seed, soil, sun, rain) are color coded to the accompanying illustration, thus reinforcing the use of context clues. The narrative concludes with birds dispersing the seeds from our flower and beginning the process anew. Back matter consists of a pictorial life cycle of the sunflower, truncating the steps from the text to present a helpful visual capture of the book’s information. An accompanying diagram of the parts of a sunflower may require adult guidance, as may two charts: one showing the parts of a seed and the other listing what seeds need to sprout. A bibliography completes the book. Clear, engaging, beautiful, and perfectly pitched to its young audience—simply brilliant.

From the May/June 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Betty Carter
Betty Carter, an independent consultant, is professor emerita of children’s and young adult literature at Texas Woman’s University.

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