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Friday, November 24, 2017

The Bad Seed, written by Jory John and illustrated by Pete Oswald. Harper. 2017. $21.99 ages 4 and up

"I stare at everybody.
I glare at everybody.
I finish other people's
sentences. And I never

And I do lots of other
bad things, too.
Know why?
Because I'm a bad seed.
A baaaaaaaaaaaad seed."

We are immediately warned. In this book, we are dealing with a bad seed and that's all there is to it! Everyone meeting up with this tempestuous narrator recognizes the truth, and is in agreement with the assessment. What makes the seed admit such things?

Tardiness, lying, a lack of attention to others, rude behaviors, uncleanliness ... you name it, it describes the 'bad' seed to a tee. Some conduct cannot even be said aloud, for fear of further judgment. Readers might find themselves and some of their behaviors mentioned here. It may even cause an uncomfortable chuckle.

What has happened for a seed to make such a wrong turn? Life started out in a good family of many seeds; a family that spent time close together while ripening in a sunflower head. The trouble started with the release of the seeds from the flower itself. Their next home was a dark bag! You know what happens to a bag of sunflower seeds, don't you? The road to bad had been determined.

Pete Oswald used 'scanned watercolor textures and digital paint' to give life to this beleaguered kernel in emotion-filled, comical images. There is much to see in the surroundings, while the focus remains firmly on the narrator throughout his tough tale.

These are behaviors familiar to many of the children who will read the book. Will they see the benefits that come from a change in attitude? They are sure to have experiences of their own to share at home and in the classroom. Perhaps it will give all who share it pause to think on the way they spend their time.

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