by Joann Early Macken; illus by Stephanie Fizer Colman
32 pages; ages 3-7
Boyds Mills Press, 2021
theme: growth, nature
If you were an acorn, you’d swing from a stout twig, snug inside a hard brown shell, bristled cap on your head.
And one day you’d drop to the ground, stretch roots into the soil, and grow into an oak. Page by page, we see a youngster change and grow into an adult. A caterpillar, a tadpole, a turtle… and later, a butterfly, frog, adult turtle.
At first glance, you might think this is a book meant to read in the spring. But here's the thing: trees, animals, butterflies - they're growing all year long. And in some cases adult butterflies don't emerge until late summer or fall ... just in time to migrate.
What I like about this book: Growing is all about movement – and this book is filled with verbs. The acorn cracks open; its roots stretch into soil and leaves reach toward the sun. Tadpoles dart; as frogs they hop. This book will inspire kids to move!
Also, JoAnn pulls examples from both plants and animals. Among the animals she features an insect, amphibian, reptile, bird, and mammal. Well, two mammals if you include yourself – which she does at the end.
And thirdly, JoAnn used second-person point-of-view, which makes it sound like she is personally addressing the reader. I wanted to know more about why she chose that point of view, and how her book grew, so …
I asked JoAnn a Question:
Me: I notice you wrote Grow in second-person point of view. What inspired you to do that? And did you find a particular “mentor text” to guide you?
JoAnn: When I started writing Grow, I was thinking of our two young sons. I wondered what kinds of people they would grow up to be. I hoped they would be inspired by nature and enjoy the outdoors. I wanted to encourage them to be independent and to find their own ways in the world. I wanted to nurture their curiosity.
It might be unusual, but I don’t think I ever considered using any point of view other than second person. It just felt right to me. I wrote as if I were speaking directly to my sons, using examples of familiar wildlife we had encountered on family hikes and canoe camping trips as well as in our own yard and neighborhood.
Although I have always read a lot, using other books as mentor texts was not part of my writing process back then. (I certainly see the value now!) I revised the manuscript many times over many years until an insightful editor helped me craft a satisfying ending.
Beyond the Books:
The best way to watch a plant grow is to plant a seed. All you need is a pot, some potting soil, and a seed or three. Dwarf varieties of marigold, zinnia, and cosmos are perfect for growing in a bucket or other pot for an indoor garden. Or – if you’re adventurous – plant an acorn from a tree!
Choose a plant or animal and write and draw pictures about its life. How does it grow? How does it move? What does it eat? Does it look different when it’s an adult that when it is young?
Find out more about what second-person point of view is. Here’s an article with links to great resources.
JoAnn is a member of #STEAMTeam2021. She has written other fun-to-read books, which you can find out more about at her website.
Today we're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copy provided by the publisher.