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Friday, January 4, 2019

Flow Spin Grow: Looking for Patterns in Nature, by Patchen Barss and illustrated by Todd Stewart. Owlkids, 2018. $19.95 ages 4 and up

"Breathe in deep

Branches also spread
through your body.
They move air in and
out of your lungs,
and carry blood to and
from your heart.
Wherever there's flow,
there's branching."

I hope that you and your family found time to get outside and do some exploring during the holiday season. I'm sure that author Patchen Barss would have the same wish. He has a special interest in patterns and where they are found in nature. In this book written for young children, he encourages readers to look closely at patterns that are part of their daily lives.

Each double page spread asks children to be present and to take action. As the quote included above shows, he wants them to take note of those things they often pass by when they are out in the natural world. As children look, climb, dig, they will begin to notice common patterns they often miss while playing.


Mountain rain and melting ice form
tiny rivulets. Water burbles. Tumbling
streams combine to form huge rivers.
These winding, watery paths look so
much like a spreading tree that we
call them branches, too."

The connections he makes will be as fascinating for the adult reading the book as they are for the children who are listening. It is fascinating to find that there are no easy answers, but each discovery we make does tell us something about the way nature works.

 Todd Stewart does a commendable job of bringing the concepts to life. The opening double page spread shows young readers all the ways in which they might find out more about the outdoors. Changes in perspective in the artwork are worthy of discussion and engagement. His gentle lines and color choices will encourage kids to get out and to see what is right before their eyes. Isn't that the best way to fall in love with the beauty of our world? Why do patterns appear in places you might never expect to see them? This book will help get them started at taking a closer look.

An author's note encourages that exact thing.

"Be watchful. Be thoughtful. Ask questions. Make connections.
When you see a pattern in an unexpected place, try to find an
explanation. You never know where patterns will lead you."

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