Newborns and toddlers will miss this gentle board book’s subtleties, but new moms will get the message: Babies grow all too quickly.
Meister mimics the rhythm and rhyme of the old nursery song about catkins, “I Have a Little Pussy,” to describe a seedling’s growth. Consistent syllable counts and unforced rhymes make the four-line stanzas read smoothly. Meanwhile the illustrations show both a seedling and a baby growing up. A patient gray pussycat on each spread observes their progress and echoes the pussy willows of the origin rhyme. The story starts on the cover. A mom cuddling a blanket-wrapped baby sits in a swing hung from a mature tree. Over the course of five verses spread over 14 pages, the titular seedling is planted, tended, and grows into a sapling as the baby goes from sleeping newborn to preschool child reading independently under that sapling. In between are playful images of the growing baby pulling the cat’s tail, toddling in a rainstorm, “helping” pull weeds near the seedling, and pushing the cat in a cart. Elements in the illustrations suggest growth and seasonal changes. The baby’s onesie has tiny leaves; the toddler’s shorts have slightly larger leaves; the child’s book cover and T-shirt are decorated with trees. The final illustration of the mother pushing the child in the swing under the blooming tree brings the story full circle. Both mother and child have pale skin.
Expect oohs and aahs when planted at a baby shower. (Board book. 1-3)