Four Bindweed brothers travel, meet other plants, and encounter a hoe-wielding farmer in this illustrated children’s book.
Many weeds grow along a roadside ditch, among them the Bindweeds. Four of the bell-shaped white flowers are brothers who decide to embark on an adventure; if anything gets in their way, they figure they’ll just grow over it and keep going. In a pasture, they meet a plant with large white blossoms: a thornapple. The plant is unfriendly (“You’re no kin of mine! My flowers are the flowers of angels!”) so the brothers move on. They rest with some hospitable dock weeds, observe a meadow of flowers, and are astonished to discover a field where plants grow in regular rows. The field plants warn the brothers about weed-chopping farmers. Continuing on the road, the brothers are amazed again when they encounter their cousins, huge blue flowers on a vine climbing high. The siblings address their cousins with awe: “Blues of great fame….You truly are the glories of the morn!” Flattered, the morning glories invite the Bindweeds to stay awhile. Unfortunately, just as the field plants warned, a farmer comes with his hoe and chops out the Bindweeds, leaving them on the roadside—but the tough plants root themselves again, crowing: “Ha! We’ve outwitted the hoe! We’re unstoppable!” Glenn (Pandora, 2018, etc.), a former flower arranger at the famous Chez Panisse restaurant in California, again shows her blend of storytelling magic and lovely illustrations. The journey motif is classic, and the Bindweeds (as is traditional) gain experience as they lose their innocence. The dialogue has a touch of strangeness that feels just right for talking plants. Yet the story doesn’t overly anthropomorphize them; it remains centered on the plant world, taking account of each one’s particular habits of growth and, by extension, personality. For example, the plants growing by the Bindweeds’ original roadside include “Radishes, who were known to be wild” and “the persistent Docks, thought to be coarse.” Still, the author’s watercolor images are the book’s stars, capturing the delicacy but also the toughness of flowering weeds.
A magical testament to perseverance.