Interactive and Informative
This book relies on the interactive nature of read-alouds for young children. Beginning with a single zinnia seed, the book encourages children to “press it down” into the dirt, “wiggle your fingers to add some water,” and “rub the sun to make it hotter.” Child readers “help” a handful of seeds grow into flowers and then scatter new seeds through performing a number of simple actions.
The illustrations were bright and appropriately simple, allowing children to focus on just the few elements involved in growing flowers. Readers see the same scene on every page, which emphasizes how much changes in the life cycle of a plant. Many young children will enjoy finding the ladybug in each image. The text was engaging with exclamations and onomatopoeia, but as I read it aloud to children, I found myself stumbling occasionally over the rhythm. Most of the time, there is a clear rhyme scheme, but some of the longer lines felt clunky and out-of-sync. To be fair, though, the group of preschoolers I read this with were so engaged with tapping the clouds or wiggling their fingers to create rain that they didn’t notice my rhythmic stumbles.
Young children will enjoy this book throughout the year, but understandably, caretakers of toddlers and preschoolers would find it a strong choice during lessons on springtime. Matheson’s child-friendly note at the end, which gives some more detailed (and accurate) instructions about how to grow zinnias, is further encouragement to extend the reading experience into a real garden.