Scarlet runner beans planted by a little girl grow in their natural cycle in this picture book.
Unspooling in a modified cumulative rhyme structure—“Green bean. / And freckles and speckles. / Freckles and speckles. / Soon a root and a shoot. // A root and a shoot. / And a sprout peaking (sic) out”—Thomas’ spare words, in both their narrative structure and their story, convey nature’s cycle. An unnamed young white girl, accompanied by her springer spaniel, plants a circle of scarlet runner beans and tends them, hoeing, staking, and protecting them from rabbits and insects. In high summer the beans have formed a teepeelike structure—a perfect enclosure, the girl finds, for summer reading. The natural cycle continues as winter comes and goes, and one dried bean that has fallen off sprouts again in spring. The tale is charming, and the method of delivery works quite well (unfortunate typo aside). What doesn’t work so well are the amateurish illustrations. Where the story is spare and lilting, they are ponderous—not a good match. Additionally, the girl portrayed often looks clunky due to poor representation of perspective, and she appears to be a much older girl by the story’s conclusion. Four pages of additional information at the end of the book include plant life cycles, words to know for children, and activities teachers and parents can initiate.
An interestingly presented and well-written story of gardening for the young ones, but it’s brought low by its illustrations. (Picture book. 3-6)