Review of Oscar's Tower of Flowers

Oscar’s Tower of Flowers
by Lauren Tobia; illus. by the author
Preschool    Candlewick    40 pp.    g
5/21    978-1-5362-1777-3    $17.99

In her first solo picture book, Tobia (illustrator of the beloved Anna Hibiscus books) crafts an affecting and wordless tale of separation, growth, neighborliness, and love. Viewers are introduced to young Oscar, with small suitcase in tow, as he’s dropped off by a loved one (perhaps his mother) at the home of a kindly woman (maybe another family member). Thoughtfully paced mixed-media panel illustrations emphasize Oscar’s initial sadness and the comfort he subsequently receives from the woman as he settles in. His interest in flowers leads the pair to a garden shop, where they buy seeds and potting materials that Oscar transports back to the apartment on his red tricycle. As Oscar tends the growing plants, some time passes, shown in the illustrations via the changing of weather, light, and the construction of a new building visible through an apartment window. The blooming flowers eventually overcrowd the apartment until sweet, thoughtful Oscar decides to share some with the neighbors, bringing joy and new friendships. And soon after, Oscar gets a happy ending with the return of his caretaker. Tobia’s visual narrative is full of lovely details: the stuffed monkey Oscar takes everywhere, an attentive gray cat, even the endpapers depicting the apartment tower before and after Oscar’s colorful improvements. Share this warmhearted story with any preschooler experiencing separation from a loved one.

From the September/October 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Cynthia K. Ritter
Cynthia K. Ritter

Cynthia K. Ritter is managing editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She earned a master's degree in children's literature from Simmons University. She served on the 2019 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award committee.

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