Last week a new initiative was announced by the Michigan Seed Libraries. For the first time there is a One Seed, One State project in the State of Michigan. Seed libraries are not new, but as stated at the Michigan Seed Library website, they are beneficial:
Seeds are one of the world's most valuable resources in sustaining plant biodiversity, preserving cultural heritage, and feeding communities across the globe.
Both the American Library Association and the Public Library Association have publications on the purpose and process of establishing seed libraries.
The worth of a single seed is never to be taken for granted. All we have to do is stand among the towering giants in a grove of oaks or wander through a field of wheat to realize the veracity of this belief. A single seed is a reminder of the greatness which grows from something small. Hundred Feet Tall (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, February 11, 2020) written by Benjamin Scheuer with illustrations by Jemima Williams is a tale (and a song) of a young rabbit who finds and plants a single seed. These words are wrapped in hope and love.
Under the tree is a little brown seed
that you find in a dusting of snow.
As the seed is carried home by the young rabbit, a mental vow is made. This seed is not alone. It is to receive the best care possible. Dirt is placed in a jar and the seed is placed in the dirt in that jar.
If we could hear what the seed has to say, we would hear words of gratitude. This seed knows it will grow. It will grow because of
love and light.
This jar holding dirt and the seed is watched daily by the young rabbit. The youthful arborist notices all the changes; sprouting roots and little green shoots. Soon it's taller than its caretaker can stand.
As a parallel to the growth of the seed readers welcome the family's newest member, the birth of a baby bunny. Eventually the tree and its roots are much too tall and full for the jar. As a community, the young rabbit, family and friends take it outside to reside in a small plot in front of their home. Here all will enjoy the bounty the branches of the tree will provide.
With a rhyming word at the end of the second and fourth lines, author Benjamin Scheuer issues an open invitation for reader participation. He switches it up with the words (chorus) spoken by the seed. The cadence supplied by that rhyming has an extra beat. Readers and listeners alike will be toe-tapping before the seed sprouts. Here is a passage.
Up from the earth grows a little green stalk
with leaves that unfold to the sun.
Under the earth roots are growing and growing.
Something exciting's already begun.
The rustic, vibrant brick background spanning from the left edge to the right edge on the open and matching dust jacket and book case provides a splendid canvas for the text and our protagonist. To the left, on the back, we read the words of the final line of the chorus.
at a HUNDRED feet
The young rabbit, with those wide-rimmed red glasses, is delightful with a capital D. The green in the leaves and the purple and yellow in the tape measure are wonderful contrasting colors. Here the seed, now a small tree, is reaching toward its new height. On the dust jacket the outlines of the brick and all the elements of the oval are varnished.
On the opening endpapers the main color on the jacket and case is used to sketch characters and scenes from the book on a crisp white canvas. On the closing endpapers the young rabbit and new baby bunny are playing instruments above the music and words to Hundred Feet Tall. A two-page picture of the tops of the buildings in the neighborhood, with the tree fully grown on the right, provides space for the verso and title page text. (The dedication reads:
With love from Mummy and Daddy xxx)
The illustrations rendered
both digitally and with watercolors
by Jemima Williams are double-page images, with the exception of two pages of four smaller illustrations showing the growth of the seed as we look through the young rabbit's window. We can see the changing seasons by the weather outside and the decor inside the home. Readers will be scanning the illustrations with every page turn to find the marvelous details Jemima Williams tucks into each one.
On the license plate of the family car it reads BU-NNY. There is a picture of a teething ring on the bulletin board in the kitchen. The father rabbit is holding a book about babies as he and his wife watch the young rabbit with the jar and seed planted inside it. In addition to these elements in the pictures, readers get a very real sense of the love between the members of the rabbit family and of all the animals in their neighborhood, living in harmony and working for the common good.
One of my many, many favorite illustrations is a close-up scene of the young rabbit sleeping at night. Dreamy clouds frame the image with the thicker and wider ones on the left for the placement of text. Within the clouds are stems and leaves. Between the bedroom window curtains is the jar with the tree on the windowsill. On the right, nestled in bed, is the rabbit. The book being read before sleep arrived has to do with a very large plant and a castle in the sky. This particular book makes another appearance and coincides with the text on those pages.
The melody of a rhythm created with words and enlivened with charming images will engage multiple readers of Hundred Feet Tall written by Benjamin Scheuer with illustrations by Jemima Williams. I can hardly wait for the book's release in a week to hear the song. I'll probably be humming it for days. The book will make a wonderful addition to a story time featuring rabbits, growth, seeds, trees or the value of each individual. You may be small but there is more than one way to be tall. I know you'll want to have this book in your personal and professional collections.
To learn more about Benjamin Scheuer and Jemima Williams and their other work, please follow the links attached to their names to access their websites. Benjamin Scheuer has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, SoundCloud, Spotify and Twitter. Jemima Williams has accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. At the publisher's website you can view interior images.