Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Inching Upward!

The calendar may say spring has arrived but this morning I heard the grinding scrape of the plow along my cement drive after the snowfall last night.  Later walking with Xena I sunk into the snow over my knees in the backyard.  I have to hope green is peeking through the brown or maybe even through the last remnants of snow cover somewhere.

All those seeds blown about in the fall from plants, shrubs and trees certainly must be getting ready to make an appearance.  Or maybe not.  Rooting For You: A Moving Up Story (Disney Hyperion Books, March 11, 2014) penned by Susan Hood and pictures by Matthew Cordell chronicles the growth of a single reluctant seed.

I am NOT coming out!

There you have it, the latest news flash from deep underground.  Someone wants to stay right where they are.  Who knows what dangers are lurking in the dark?  What's that you say?  Now you're bored?

Well, that certainly changes everything.  Out bursts a root first.  Hmmm... That's not so bad. Next on top a shoot appears.  A close encounter with a rock prompts a sympathetic reply from a nearby friendly worm who offers to act as a guide.

It quickly becomes obvious the sprouted seed is surrounded by supporters.  Ants and beetles begin to call out words of encouragement.  Oh...oh...wait a minute.  Who knows what dangers are lurking in the light?

Not to worry, the worm speaks words of wisdom.  It's time to go up....up...and up some more.  From seed to root to sprout, give a shout...you made it out!

With spare text, at times conversational or with a rhythmic rhyme, Susan Hood gives readers the inside scoop on the world below and above ground.  The seed in all its stages, the wise worm and buggy friends all have their say.  Hood's words evoke the right amount of emotion to elicit reader attachment to all the characters; snickering snouts, stick by your side, friends all around, getting scared or talent to share.  Here is a sample passage.

With room to bloom,
to stand up straight.
Get going, get growing!
Your whole life awaits!

There is a certain something about the illustrations of Matthew Cordell which makes me smile.  Opening the matching dust jacket and book case, it's particularly pleasing to see the visual extend from one edge to the other.  (I really like the attention to detail; the seed representing the "o" in you.) A cheerful, colorful palette in delicate sunny shades is showcased above ground.  In the cutaway, giving readers a seed's eye view underground, warm rich browns, purple, pinks and a bright spring green color this world.  On the opening endpapers the single tiny seed is tucked in the lower right-hand corner looking a tad woebegone in its earthy home. All the buggy friends in their circular abodes and on their trails are portrayed on the closing endpapers.

Cordell continues his theme on the verso with ant-filled dirt loops.  On the title page the worm, wearing glasses, of course, is cleverly attached to the "f" in for.  On the first two pages readers are greeted with the solid spring green and three lines.  These represent an emphatic seed at close range.

In a brilliant feat of engineering as the seed sends out a root and a sprout, readers open a vertical page first, then a horizontal flap.  It's great fun to watch the facial expressions of the seed move to the sprout and finally to the center of the flower (which is a triple horizontal reveal).  To create continuity the nesting spider, the sprout navigates around below ground, is seen on the stem in the sunlight with a web between the petals.

One of my favorite illustrations is the triple horizontal pages unfolding on the right above ground with the underground view on the left.  Readers can see how far the seed has come to find its proper place in the sun.  It's a delightful blend of the narrative and illustrations with perfect pacing and placement of text.  The expressions on the characters and their body movements are as uplifting as the seed's transformation.

This title, Rooting For You: A Moving Up Story written by Susan Hood with illustrations by Matthew Cordell is exactly what we need to welcome in a new season or any new adventure.  I end up grinning every time I read it.  Use voices for the characters, open the numerous flaps with controlled slowness and pause at each picture, pass on the joy to readers that this book evokes on every page turn.  Wouldn't this book be fun to use for a gardening unit or teaching about seeds?

Please follow the links to the author's and illustrator's websites embedded in their names.

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