In this hyper-stylized, horticulturally themed riff on “The House That Jack Built,” Isabella and her friends plant “seeds/ that sleep in the soil,/ all dark and deep,” a simple act that results not only in a field of flowers, but also in a powerful connection to the ever-changing, always growing glories of nature. Not to mention its abundance: every spread is filled to the brim with Cool’s full-bleed paintings and (increasingly) Australian author Millard’s verse. Millard’s fondness for extravagant language and pathetic fallacy (buds are “all velvety-skinned,” clouds “cry the rain,” and a mantis “prays to the moon/ that winter comes never or not quite so soon”) commands attention, but the cumulative structure means there’s no escaping an overwrought line. Cool, making her debut, also lets out all the stops: her folkloric spreads—exploding with vibrant colors, collaged elements, and an encyclopedia of motifs—begin to take on a distinctly trippy quality, an impression that isn’t mitigated by a cast of characters that all share the same almond-eyed, straight-ahead stare. Ages 3–6. (Mar.)
Bright, sumptuous mixed-media spreads have a folk-art quality, while the simplicity of the artwork mirrors the lyrical text. The awe, mystery, and beauty of the changing seasons as experienced by the children make this a must-have book to welcome spring.
—School Library Journal
A garden becomes a symbol for the circle of life in this child-appealing story told in verse reminiscent of "The House That Jack Built"... The folk art–style paintings feature stylized children, birds, insects, and even a fantastical Jack Frost, who despite his outfit resembles the doll-like children. Satisfying to listen to and look at, and along the way children will learn something about how a garden grows.
Every spread is filled to the brim with Cool's full-bleed paintings and Australian author Millard's verse.
At once stately and soothing—a fine choice for bedtime sharing or for calming ruffled spirits in general.
—Seven Impossible Things blog
The expected rhythm of the words matches well the roundness of the naturally growing world, and the less expected rhymes (like "appled" and "dappled" and "wind" and "velvety skinned") draw our attention further. Rebecca Cool's bright polychromed pictures of children and plants rev up gardening enthusiasm.
This is a beautifully written tale that follows the repetitive pattern of "The House that Jack Built" - perfectly to the circular cycle of nature.
—San Antonio Express-News
Take a journey through Isabella's garden, where beautiful flowers bloom and the tiniest of seeds flourish.
PreS-Gr 2—In this cumulative poem à la "The House That Jack Built," Isabella plants a garden. Her friends, wide-eyed children standing with their bare feet in the dark soil, help her water and tend it as the sun shines, the rain falls, and the seeds become shoots seeking the sun. They fly kites as Isabella's buttercups "waltz with the wind," and a chick in a thistledown vest hatches from its nest in an apple tree. The children climb the tree "leafy and appled/that speckles the garden with shade, deep and dappled…." The season changes, the leaves turn crimson, and a mantis "prays to the moon/that winter comes never or not quite so soon…." On a splendid pale blue spread, a fanciful Jack Frost appears, "encrusting the garden with glisten and glimmer." Then "all that remains is the well-feathered nest/that was built by the bird with the scarlet breast/and a handful of seeds for the wild wind to blow/Enough, just enough, for a garden to grow." Bright, sumptuous mixed-media spreads have a folk-art quality, while the simplicity of the artwork mirrors the lyrical text. The awe, mystery, and beauty of the changing seasons as experienced by the children make this a must-have book to welcome spring.—Mary Jean Smith, formerly at Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TN
In sonorous cumulative verse, a seasonal round set in a garden rich in color, flowers and children. Beginning and ending with the soil "all dark and deep," seeds sprout, rain falls and flowers "waltz with the wind." A songbird hatches, leaves turn, a mantis vainly prays to the moon "that winter come never or not quite so soon." Jack Frost dances past, leaving an empty nest and "a handful of seeds for the wild wind to blow. / Enough, just enough, for a garden to grow." Against backdrops of vibrant greens and blues, Cool poses a group of stylized children with distant eyes widely set in modernist, Picasso-esque faces, dressed in brightly patterned clothing and busily digging, watering, playing and, in season, harvesting. Millard introduces subtle changes in wording to the repeated lines to stave off monotony, and the leaves and patterns in the pictures create a dance of color that rises and falls in energy as the annual cycle turns. At once stately and soothing--a fine choice for bedtime sharing or for calming ruffled spirits in general. (Picture book. 6-8)