Quote of the Month

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

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Groovin' Movin' Greenery

Too late for a proper garden but unable to resist the temptation of growing something to eat, two large pots on my deck are home for a single pumpkin and zucchini plant.  In less than sixty days six inches have become five feet of winding vines weaving among annuals planted in layers of flower boxes.  Yellow blossoms dot the strands of green, signs of tasty goodness to come.

Plants in all seasons of the year are a promise of renewal, a continuation of life.  Plants Can't Sit Still (Millbrook Press, a division of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc., August 1, 2016) written by Rebecca E. Hirsch with illustrations by Mia Posada presents their fascinating methods of motion.  You'll be ready to focus on flora with new eyes.  

Plants don't have feet 
or fins or wings,
yet they can move
in many ways.
Look closely and you'll discover
that plants
sit still.

They begin beneath the ground twisting and turning their way upward toward their essential needs; heat and light.  Some roots form a chain sending up new plants from a central point.  A single plant may grow many arms reaching over the ground.  Vines may need other plants or structures to spread vertically or they contain hidden strengths.

Branches on plants can act as hands repelling and capturing enemies.  Plants can have internal clocks.  Have you ever walked outside after dark to see how they shift and change?  

Doing different dances, partnering with air, seeds spread on the ground or from high places.  They can burst forth from small pods attached to plant bodies.  Seeds can be sneaky attaching to unsuspecting animals or people.  Sometimes seeds become a vessel transported on water until they discover new ground.  Every place they land, regardless of how they move, gives seeds a chance to begin anew.  

An array of action words, verbs, selected by Rebecca E. Hirsch portrays the movements of plants in ways readers might not initially notice.  She takes us beneath the ground, along the ground, and upward, always upward.  Their amazing survival techniques and hidden clocks are descriptively depicted.  Like real life, Hirsch brings us full circle providing us with information on seeds and how they are spread. The More About Plants pages at the book's end gives readers a conversational overview of plants in general but also supplies us with more in-depth information about twenty particular plants, including their scientific names.  You will be pleasantly surprised by what you learn.  Here is another sample passage from the book.

A seed is a plant
built for travel.
Seeds can whirl
like helicopters
or float on
or glide on papery wings.
But they 

Readers are greeted with a rainbow of color and plants performing many movements in the collage on the front of the matching dust jacket and book case.  Their lifting, dropping, popping and shifting surround the title text which appears to be in motion too.  To the left, on the back, readers see a scene from nighttime, moonflowers opening and raising their faces to the light.  On the opening and closing endpapers, looking from left to right, seven individual illustrations on a pale blue background represent the cycle of a dandelion from parachuting seeds, to tiny sprouts, a small plant, yellow blossoms and back to an old plant ready to release seeds.  Morning glory vines and flowers frame the verso and title pages.

Rendered in cut paper collage with watercolor eight of the eighteen illustrations created by Mia Posada span from left to right across two pages.  Ten of the images are on single pages but they appear together intricately bound by background color and the type of plant pictured.  The use of light and dark and layers generate a life-like texture.  

The perspectives are varied as we view the places these plants move.  Tucked in each illustration are other creatures; a blue butterfly, a bird enjoying the seeds from a sunflower, creeping caterpillars, moths, a mouse and small red ladybugs to name a few.  It's as if we are surrounded by the worlds Posada makes for us.  

One of my favorite of many illustrations is of the exploding pods attached to a squirting cucumber.  From left to right pale green leaves, portions of vines and pale yellow blossoms spread.  On arched stems hang the pods.  One of them is shooting out seeds crossing the gutter from left to the right zooming over a full bloom.  A small green frog sits on one of the leaves.    

Plants Can't Sit Still written by Rebecca E. Hirsch with illustrations by Mia Posada is a way to discover movement secrets of plants more commonly known and seen by readers.  We can walk in the wild world, our neighborhoods or in our backyards to discover these truths.  In addition to the More About Plants section there is an author's note, glossary and more information through books and websites.  The time lapse videos at one of the websites are amazing.  It might be fun to pair this title with Rooting for You: A Moving Up Story written by Susan Hood with pictures by Matthew Cordell.

To learn more about Rebecca E. Hirsch please visit her website by following the link attached to her name.  She also maintains a blog linked here.  At the Lerner website Mia Posada participates in a short Q & A.  In a longer interview Rebecca E. Hirsch answers questions at Lerner.  To get a glimpse at interior pages please visit the publisher's website.

Be sure to stop by Kid Lit Frenzy hosted by educator Alyson Beecher to read about the other titles chosen by bloggers participating in the 2016 Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge.  


  1. I have a full garden of flowers and a large planting "outside" my fence where I've fought a battle with bindweed all summer. Yes, I know well that plants can't sit still, wishing I was watching those pumpkin & zucchini plants instead, Margie. Thanks for sharing this book-sounds great.

    1. In this new home I have Linda there are gardens on all four sides, large ones in front and an extra one out back. They are established perennials that have been allowed to flourish too much. I have been working very hard in clay trying to separate plants with ingrown root systems. I feel for you and your battle with bindweed. I think you would enjoy this title.

  2. Well this definitely sounds good, most of the kids I work with can't sit still, either! :)

    1. Thank you for making me smile Jane. I think this title would be perfect for your wiggling, squirming and climbing students.

  3. The art looks very fun on this book!

    1. The art is colorful and playful Annette; perfect for the text.

  4. This cover is so gorgeous. I just re-read two of Mia Posada's books this past week. It's on my library request list (since they haven't yet ordered it). Thanks, Margie :)

    1. I think I need to check out more of Mia Posada's book Maria. I hope your library can get a copy soon.