Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Growing Season by Maryann Cocca-Leffler - Children's Day #6
In Growing Season by Maryann Cocca-Leffler, El and Jo are the best of friends. They're the two smallest children in their class and their names are short, too. They sit together at perfectly-sized desks, help each other reach things that they couldn't reach alone, and pose together for class photos. They play elves together in the Holiday Show and are small enough to share the special reading chair (I assume this chair is in their classroom, as the beginning of the book takes place at school).
Then, suddenly Jo has a tremendous growth spurt in the spring and El is left behind. Jo doesn't need El's help reaching things anymore. She can move to a bigger desk and she's able to reach over El when everyone is told to go get a flower to take home and grow over the summer break. El's the last to get a plant and her little aster is completely devoid of blooms. She feels sad and small but her teacher, Mr. Diaz, assures her that her plant will bloom.
Mr. Diaz leaned in. "El, that's an aster plant. Aster means 'star'."
"It's no star. It's just a little, plain green plant," said El.
"Just you wait! In time, it will grow and have beautiful purple blooms," said Mr. Diaz.
El was not so sure.
Jo notices El's envious glance between her plant and Jo's and Jo hands El her zinnia, which is covered in blooms, saying she's going to be at her grandma's all summer, anyway. El puts the two plants in her garden, waters them, talks to them, and waits all summer (with her adorable kitty, Maddy -- another book with a cat, yay!) and the girls write to each other while they're apart.
At the end of the summer, both flowers are blooming, Jo comes home, and El realizes something big has happened. She's grown, too!
Aster had finally bloomed . . . and so had EL!
Highly recommended - I absolutely love this sweet story about growing plants, growing bodies, and friendship. At the end of the book, there's a page entitled "Plant life cycles" that describes annual, perennial, and biennial flowers, as well as tender perennials, which I'd never heard of (they may or may not return, depending upon the climate) but have experienced because we're in a climate zone where certain plants I knew as annuals when living farther north come back year after year, here. I'm always especially fond of children's books in which there's some factual information to round out a story. I already enjoyed the tale of the two little girls who grow at different speeds in the same way their plants bloom at a different rate but the extra info just added to what was already a 5-star read.
This is the final review for today's special Children's Day event and not a dud in the bunch. Awesome. Many thanks to Sterling Children's Books for another wonderful pile to read and share with the world!
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