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What Flowers Remember

What Flowers Remember

5.0 1
by Shannon Wiersbitzky

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"Most folks probably think gardens only get tended when they're blooming. But most folks would be wrong. According to the almanac, a proper gardener does something every single month. Old Red Clancy was definitely a proper gardener. That's whyI enrolled myself in the Clancy School of Gardening. If I was going to learn about flowers, I wanted to learn from the best."


"Most folks probably think gardens only get tended when they're blooming. But most folks would be wrong. According to the almanac, a proper gardener does something every single month. Old Red Clancy was definitely a proper gardener. That's whyI enrolled myself in the Clancy School of Gardening. If I was going to learn about flowers, I wanted to learn from the best."

Delia and Old Red Clancy make quite a pair. He has the know-how and she has the get-up-and-go. When they dream up a seed- and flower-selling business, well, look out, Tucker's Ferry, because here they come.

But something is happening to Old Red. And the doctors say he can't be cured. He's forgetting places and names and getting cranky for no reason. As his condition worsens, Delia takes it upon herself to save as many memories as she can. Her mission is to gather Old Red's stories so that no one will forget, and she corrals everybody in town to help her.

WHAT FLOWERS REMEMBER is the story of love and loss, of a young girl coming to understand that even when people die, they live on in our minds, our hearts, and our stories.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Greta Holt
Old Red tells plenty of old people stories, but he has the best garden flowers anyone in Tucker’s Ferry can imagine. The flowers are heirlooms: from pure, never doctored seedlings that are carefully saved each year and planted again. Twelve-year-old Delia decides to learn all about flowers from Old Red, who is willing to teach her. Together they develop a seedling business that will make the heirlooms available to townspeople. Wiersbitzky organizes the book gracefully by naming the chapters after months of the year. Delia has been taught that a real gardener does something for her garden each month, and the author’s structure keeps the book moving, even though some characters, such as the evil Miller boys, could have been given more time. The secondary characters are likeable: Tommy hangs around the garden because he is soft on Delia, best friend Mae drags Delia away from the garden for junior high events, and the adults are either happy gossips or good parents. But Old Red begins to lose his memory. It becomes a real worry when Old Red yells at Delia for coming into his messy house to see if he is all right. Delia decides to save as many memories as she can for Old Red. She goes to townspeople who give her pictures and stories about Old Red’s time in the military, and his great love for his wife Rosalea. The ebb and flow of life is shown, grief is addressed, and the power of what one person can do is celebrated. Teachers may wish to consider this book for reading lists in middle school. Reviewer: Greta Holt; Ages 11 to 14.
Kirkus Reviews
Thanks to her love of flowers, Delia has become a sort of apprentice to talented gardener Old Red and is devastated when he begins to show signs of encroaching dementia. With all of the confidence of youth, she holds in her heart the belief that perhaps with her help—and that of all his loving neighbors—she can preserve his memories by collecting favorite stories about the beloved man. As she moves through the months, she records (in a rather mature first-person) both the tasks she completes in the garden as well as the stories she collects about him, also describing Red's tragically inexorable decline. Delia's surrounded by loving adults, and she shares her grief with best friend Mae and new love interest Tommy, as well as receiving support from members of her church; with these relationships, this warm effort neatly captures the strength of a close-knit community and the tight bonds that can form between the very old and the young. The 13-year-old's often lyrical prose is attractive, even though it sometimes strays toward a more adult-sounding voice. Her frustration, fear and sense of loss will be readily recognizable to others who have experienced dementia in a loved one, and her story may provide some guidance on how to move down that rocky path toward acceptance and letting go. What do flowers remember? The stories of the people who cared for them, of course, as Wiersbitzky's sensitive novel compassionately conveys. (Fiction. 11-14)
VOYA, June 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 2) - Heather Christensen
Tucker’s Ferry, West Virginia, is a picture-perfect small town where everyone takes care of each other. So when Old Red—who has lived in Tucker’s Ferry his whole life and is known for his gorgeous gardens—is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the entire town rallies around him. Twelve-year-old Delia has spent many weekends and afternoons with Old Red, helping him with his garden and listening to his many stories. The diagnosis comes shortly after the two decided to start a business together selling seeds from his heirloom flowers. Determined to save Old Red’s memories, Delia decides to do something about it. Talking to friends and neighbors and even Old Red himself, she harvests stories along with seeds, carefully preserving them in a special journal. When Old Red moves from his house to a nursing home, the pages of the journal decorate the walls of his new room. Wiersbitzky’s episodic narrative on the power of story and community is strangely absent of conflict. Month by month, Delia participates in a variety of small town events—from rousing Sunday meetings with Preacher Jenkins to a Valentine’s Dance where she gets the slightest taste of romance—all the while collecting stories full of sweetness and nostalgia. The true villain of course, is the disease that robs Old Red, but even that theft takes place mostly off the page. Fans of wholesome, uplifting stories similar to Canfield’s Chicken Soup for the Soul collections, will best enjoy this gentle reminder of the goodness of life and people. Reviewer: Heather Christensen; Ages 11 to 14.
Children's Literature - Joyce Rice
Tucker’s Ferry, West Virginia is much like other small towns in that the people know each other and know about each other. Children are watched by their parents, the storekeepers, the mailman, and the neighbors. Mae and Delia are best friends growing up together. Delia is the book’s narrator, telling about the people who live in her town. There is Miss Martha, the postal employee, who keeps up with all of the goings on in town and has a heart of gold. There is Tommy Parker, who is sweet on Delia and likes to show up unannounced to help with whatever she is doing. Then there is Old Red Clancy, the neighbor who boasts the most beautiful flower gardens in town. Everyone is envious of Old Red’s heirloom flowers, growing from seeds that have been passed down by generations of his family. Old Red begins to teach Delia about flowers and together they start selling heirloom seeds but something is happening to Old Red that makes it hard for him to remember. At different times, he forgets people’s names, how to get to the church, and how to get back home. Finally, Old Red shares with the community that he has a disease that is stealing his memories. Delia knows that she must help him to hold on to those memories as long as he can. Old Red is the storyteller of their little town and without his memories, he will not know who he is. What follows is a heart-wrenching story of a young girl showing love for her elderly neighbor while coming to terms with life. This story will help young readers understand more about Alzheimer’s and will show them that people we love live on in our own story. This is a worthwhile purchase for school collections, classroom collections, or gifts. I already have a young reader in mind for my copy. Reviewer: Joyce Rice; Ages 10 to 14.

Product Details

Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
11 - 15 Years

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What Flowers Remember 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
KerryOMalleyCerra More than 1 year ago
One day Old Red is training Delia as his flower apprentice, and the next he can hardly remember her. As heartbroken as Delia is when Old Red’s memory starts to slip, she turns her sadness into a town-wide effort to preserve Old Red’s best memories in a notebook, so he can pull one out at any time—to remember. This is a beautiful story of a girl on a mission to help her best pal regain the moments from his life that meant so much. Though a flower may wilt and die, its seeds have the power to live on.
WildlifeRehabber More than 1 year ago
What flowers remember is a well written, thoughtful story that really helped me understand how to more effectively interact with, and help those in my life who are struggling with memory loss.   I was struck by how helpful I found it, and how a child might equally find it helpful. Shannon is a terrific writer. I highly recommend this book, as a tender story, and as a guide for those of us who are faced with similar challenges.