Friday, March 22, 2024

Celebrating Seeds and a book anniversary

 I missed this book by a fellow Sleeping Bear Press author when it released last year, so I’m celebrating its One Year Anniversary! Full disclosure: I am a gardener and seed-saver… so yeah, I may be a bit biased.

Every Little Seed  
by Cynthia Schumerth; illus. by Elisa Paganelli 
32 pages; ages 5-8
Sleeping Bear Press, 2023

theme: gardening, rhyme, family

 Grandpa told Mom, and Mom told me: The secret of a plant lives in every little seed.

When spring finally arrives, it’s time to plant seeds. This story follows a girl, her grandpa, and her mom as they plant and tend their garden over a season, We are introduced to a variety of garden tools – a wonderful illustration shows all the different things you might use, from claw-cultivator to trowel! The story brings us full circle, by collecting seeds for planting the next year.

What I like about this book: There are so many things to notice, from the differences in seeds to the small creatures that call the garden home. Some of them help pollinate the flowers; some of them are nibblers, chewing on plants we don’t want them to eat! So I appreciate that non-chemical solutions are shown for dealing with unwanted hungry garden guests.

There’s back matter, too (which you know I love!) with information about what’s inside seeds, invasive plants and animals, and some seed-related activities. And the illustrations are lovely. Here's a sample from Elisa Paganelli's gallery

Since I am a gardener, I knew I just had to ask Cynthia Schumerth a question or three…

Me: Hi Cynthia. I save seeds from the beans and pumpkins in my garden, and from flowers growing in my garden and around my yard. I’ve been known to collect seeds from flowers along roadsides and even from other people’s gardens! With their permission, of course. Do you save seeds? And what do you like to save?

Cynthia: I do save seeds.  Most of the seeds I save are from my annual flowering plants. My favorite are my Cosmos flowers.  When they dry on the stem, their seeds form a star.  You just have to slide your fingers over them and they release like magic. I always save my zinnia and marigold seeds too.  I even planted a lemon seed I saved and it grew into a lemon tree. I live where it’s cold in the winter, so I have to keep the tree inside from October to May. If you pinch the leaves they smell like lemon, it’s pretty neat.  But I’ve never gotten any actual fruit. I’ve also collected milkweed seeds and spread them out in open fields and along the roadside. It’s my way of helping the monarchs who need milkweed to lay their eggs on.

Me: Yes – dried cosmos seedheads are like asterisks in the garden! Did your own gardening experiences inspire your book? 

Cynthia: I grew up in a gardening family.  I had country grandparents who grew mostly vegetables and berries and of course fields of wheat and corn. I spent many hours in the garden with my Grandma picking peas and strawberries and red currants. And my sister and I helped Grandpa collect the corn seeds from the dried field corn. In the city my grandparents had a vegetable garden, and they grew beautiful flowers.  I learned a lot about flowers from them.  In parts of their garden they didn’t collect seeds, they’d just flatten the dried up plants down and let them reseed for next year. My parents had a large vegetable garden and several large flower beds.  They were always working out in the garden and of course we all helped.  I think we ate more than we picked! I guess you could say my grandparents and my parents helped me write this story by teaching me all about gardening and love as I grew up. 

Me:  Do you have favorite seeds and flowers?

Cynthia: While cosmos is my favorite seed to collect, my favorite flower is the violet. My second favorite is the forget-me-not. In our first house I grew forget-me-knots along our fence line and for some reason the birds would come along and cut the stem just under the flower head and all the pretty blue flower heads would fall to the ground. I often wonder why. I think Hollyhock seeds are interesting. It’s just really fun to take a closer look at dried up flowers in the fall and see all the different ways you can find their seeds hiding on the plant. It’s also interesting to see all the different shapes that seeds come in even if you don’t collect them.

Thanks for dropping by to talk about seeds and gardening, Cynthia. And now for one of my favorite parts of writing reviews – doing things that go…

Beyond the Books:

Plant some seeds and watch them grow. Beans, sunflowers, and other flowers are fun to grow – and you can even grow them in pots on your balcony, porch, or roof if you don’t have a garden.

Watch flowers you plant – or that you find growing in your neighborhood – throughout the season. Can you tell when they are producing seeds? Collect seeds from different flowers to examine. Cosmos, calendula, bee balm, and yucca are interesting to look at. What do you notice about these seeds? Plant some to see how they grow.

How do seeds get from a parent plant to a new place to grow? Look for milkweed or dandelion seeds, burdock seeds, and seeds in berries. What do you notice about these seeds? How do you think they end up in a new place?

Today we’re joining Perfect Picture Book Friday. It’s a wonderful gathering where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copy provided by the publisher.

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