A verbal and visual tone poem involving a seed, a wish and time.
A text afflicted with grammatical ambiguity (“If you hold a seed / And make a wish, / And plant it in the ground…”) and an unlikely claim that “When autumn comes again, / [The tree] will lean into the wind” chronicles the growth of a tree. With it, the book follows the boy who plants it over years and seasons until he sits, an adult, on one of its branches to show another seed in turn to a child. The seeds depicted are just generic blobs, and despite recognizable birds and butterflies in MacKay’s paper-collage scenes, her pervasive use of extremely soft focus backgrounds and slow shifts of hue set aside specific depictions of natural detail in favor of a dreamy, abstract evocation of time’s passage. Likewise, except for some of the animals, her figures look down, away or off to the side, which will have the effect of distancing viewers—younger ones, at least. MacKay’s debut could have used better writing, but artistically, she does show unusual sensitivity to effects of color and light.
Nevertheless, next to such artful treatments as The Carrot Seed and And Then It’s Spring, by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Erin E. Stead (2012), it pretty much defines “additional purchase.” (Picture book. 6-8)