Skip to main content

If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson



I am very embarrassed to say that this is the first book by  Kadir Nelson I have reviewed here. Nelson is an award winning artist who's work can be seen on postage stamps and New Yorker covers. Nelson has also won many awards for the children's books he has illustrated and written. His authorial debut, We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball won the Seibert Award, the Coretta Scott King Award for Authors and the Coretta Scott King Honor for Illustrators.  Nelson has illustrated books about Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King, Nelson Mandela, Joe Lewis, Duke Ellington, Harriet Tubman and Michael Jordan. He has illustrated picture books written by Will Smith and Spike Lee. And, while the message of Nelson's newest picture book, If You Plant a Seed, is as serious as any other he has covered, it is also beautifully simple in its presentation. On top of it all, If You Plant a Seed is one of those rare picture books with a message that not overtly didactic.


Using gardening as a metaphor, Nelson's sparse text, complimented by rich oil paintings, powerfully illustrates the idiom, "You reap what you sow." The first few pages of If You Plant a Seed show a rabbit and a mouse planting seeds and tending to their garden, through rain and shine, night and day.



When they are about to enjoy the fruits of their labor, a flock of birds descends, tentatively, wordlessly sending a message. I have read this book out loud to several classes, across all grades, and I love watching my students's faces as I show them these pages. Nelson's animals, while slightly anthropomorphized, communicate with body language and are incredibly expressive. My favorite page in the book is a close-up of the flock of birds making their inquiry. If You Plant a Seed goes on to show what happens when you plant a seed of selfishness and how sweet the fruits of kindness can be, ending on the perfect note. If You Plant a Seed is one of those books that you will find yourself reading over and over, marveling at the wisdom of the story and the stunning illustrations. 


 A few of the amazing books illustrated - and written and illustrated - by Kadir Nelson
















Source: Review Copy




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

The Seeing Stick, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Daniela J Terrazini

The Seeing Stick is an original Chinese fairy tale written by the prolific (and prolifically award winning) Jane Yolen. First published in 1977 with illustrations by Remy Charlip (author and illustrator of the brilliantly fun picture book Fortunately and friend and muse to Brian Selznick, who asked him to pose as George Méliès while he was working on the Caldecott winning The Invention of Hugo Cabret) The Seeing Stick was reissued with new illustrations by Daniela J. Terrazini in 2009. I have not seen Charlip's version, but Terrazini's is a beautiful work of art and the book itself is yet another magnificently packaged book published by Running Press, the house that brought us Steven Arntson's The Wikkeling, yet another superbly and uniquely packaged children's book with artwork by Terrazini. Interestingly, both The Wikkeling and The Seeing Stick were designed by Frances J Soo Ping Chow.

The Seeing Stick begins, "Once in the ancient walled citadel of Peking there l…

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!

Be…