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Friday, March 27, 2015

Flowers Are Calling, words by Rita Gray and pictures by Kenard Pak. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Thomas Allen & Son. 2015. $21.99 ages

"Flowers are calling
a wet green frog.
No, not a frog!
She likes her soggy bog.

They're calling a bumblebee
to look near their log."

Calling all young scientists! This quiet and effective book about plants, insects, animals and pollination offers encouragement to every person who reads it, or who listens to its words, to get outside and take note of what is happening all around us.

Rita Gray uses an interesting and inviting pattern to introduce young readers to the natural world, and the interactions between plants and animals. She makes it clear from the start that not all pairings are likely to work:

"Flowers are calling a little black bear.
No, not a bear! He doesn't care.
They're calling a butterfly
to dip from the air."

Kenard Pak's watercolor and digital media artwork fills the double page spread with a quiet scene that shows a bear cub emerging into a light-infused glade where perfect, delicate, and brilliant white Queen Anne's Lace is drawing the attention of equally delicate butterflies. In the next two spreads we see the same pattern for bumblebees and hummingbirds. Following that we are provided with short bits of information about the plants that attract them. On these particular pages, we learn about Queen Anne's Lace, Monkshood, and Trumpet Honeysuckle. The illustrations allow a clear, colorful look at each of them.

The pattern continues through two more sets of plants, and their pollinators before the author involves the children in the game:

"Flowers are calling a busy wren.
No, not a wren! He's already seen them.
They're calling children
to look again."

A lovely invitation to be sure. In back matter, to encourage careful consideration of flowers themselves, she suggests that they look at color, pattern, shape, smell and time of opening. Then, she accompanies it with a further Would You Believe! section.

"Flowers need pollinators to flourish, and pollinators need flowers for nourishment. A pollinator is any animal or insect that helps a flower to trade pollen with another flower like itself. Most flowers need to trade pollen with each other so they can make seeds. These seeds will then grow into new plants."

Ms. Gray then offers up ways in which flowers 'call to' their own special pollinators, and makes a plea for us to learn more in order to assure a future for these lovely plants.

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