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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Seeds, Bees, Butterflies, and More. Written by Carole Gerber and illustrated by Eugene Yelchin. Henry Holt & Company, Macmillan. Raincoast Books. 2013. $19.99 ages 6 and up

These eighteen poems are meant to be read aloud (as all poetry should be) by two voices. It's impossible to make one work in this small space; so, I will tell you a little about the book before I share a poem with you. Spring seems to have arrived on the Canadian prairies and as I sit listening to the robins sing and lawnmowers roar, it is a perfect time to share this book about growing things.  There's so much fun to be had when young readers share their reading, and I am sure you will find some poems here that would work for an end-of-the-year assembly presentation. Let's start with the tiny ladybug whose help is so essential to gardens and yards:

Ladybug Hugs

If garden flowers could give hugs...
                we'd embrace the ladybugs.
Every summer, without fuss,
they eat the pests that chew on us.
                 They look harmless. They look sweet.
But all those ladies do is eat!
                 Each chomps aphids - five per hour!
An amazing number to devour.
                 When summer's over, off they'll go.
We'll miss those hungry ladies so!

Two voices, and then the final line together...what fun they are! The added delight is that young children will be learning about seeds, germination, roots, sunlight, and special visitors that help seeds grow and prosper. Here you'll meet and learn more about bees, worms, snails and monarch butterflies.

In the book, it's easy to tell who reads what as the colors vary for the person speaking. Both colors are used for lines to be shared.  It's just the type of book that keeps kids interested and invested in their reading. Most of the poems are placed on brilliant bold-colored double page spreads by Eugene Yelchin. The graphite and gouache illustrations take us inside and out, allow us to visit places where seeds are found, and where they germinate. They introduce animals that will appeal to young readers and allow them a window into what happens to seeds through the connections made. In the end, Ms. Gerber includes a summary of what has been introduced in these appealing, and useful, poems.  

"Honey and Bumble

I like your black and yellow suit.
                                  I love your tiny waist. Next to you,
                                  I'm awkward and take up too much space.
Bumble, you're a perfect bee.
                                  Thanks, Honey, so are you.
                                  Want to share my flower?
                                  There's room enough for two!"

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