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Monday, February 24, 2014

Miss Maple's Seeds, story and pictures by Eliza Wheeler. Nancy Paulsen Books, Penguin. 2013. $18.00 ages 3 and up

"Miss Maple takes them on a field trip to learn about being a seed. Some will be carried by the river and land in soft, muddy soils. Friends of the river will help them bloom in safe places. They tour the grassy fields and thick forests. Many seeds will be blown here..."

What would we do without people like Miss Maple? They love to spend their time making the world a more beautiful place, and they teach us lessons that will help us to do the same.

She is very tiny, as you can see from the front cover, and she does spend her summer looking for seeds that have missed spring planting. They find warmth and comfort within her home as she gives them all the care they will need to be productive in the next planting season. She knows each and every one of them, and loves them all. (The illustrated page that shows and names each of them is a welcome addition.) She teaches them about the world that surrounds them. She reads them stories as they snuggle in each evening (oh, I love that!), and she whispers them a warning:

"Take care, my little children, for the world is big and you are small."

They spend the winter snuggled deep in the warmth of the maple tree, and look forward to spring when Miss Maple teaches them to dance in the rain. Then, they must take what she has taught them and find their own way in the world.

"Miss Maple has given them guidance and love, and now her part in their story has come to an end. They say their good-byes with sweet memories and bright futures ahead."

All that is left for Miss Maple to do now is to start all over again, finding other seeds who have missed the planting and who will need nurturing until it's time for them to find their wings and fly!

It's a celebration, and would be perfect read alongside Mrs. Spitzer's Garden (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2001).

Eliza Wheeler's delicate artwork was created using dip pens, India ink, and watercolors. The images are filled with the many small details that make each moment spent with Miss Maple a real treasure.
Young readers will wonder at the cozy warmth of her home, the frog's log home, the tiny delicate beds designed especially for their occupants, and the elegant lanterns that carry them down the stream. It's a lovely little world.

Right now, in the blistering cold of a very long and bitter Manitoba winter, any book that offers warmth and a belief that spring will come again is welcome.


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