December 17, 2019

And Then the Seed Grew

Written and illustrated by Marianne Dubuc
Kids Can Press
32 pp.
Ages 3-7
September 2019

Above ground, a seed falls onto the soil and, observed by a green sprite and a gnome, begins to grow. But its impact below ground is as impressive as what the world sees sprouting above for And Then the Seed Grew is as much about a plant's life cycle as it is about community.
From And Then the Seed Grew by Marianne Dubuc
In a garden above ground live little Jack and Mr. Gnome, though the inhabitants below ground–Yvonne the mole, the Field Mouse family, Paulie the earthworm and Colette the ant–often make their way up there too. When a new seed begins to grow, it sends its root into the bathroom of the mole's home–she has a multi-chamber abode–and blocks Colette's path. Though Yvonne sets to work with her tools to repair the damage, the root continues to grow, repeatedly blocking the ants' paths and even interrupting Susie's birthday party at the Field Mouse home.

The below-ground animals are not pleased with the changes they have to make and are exhausted in trying to deal with the encroaching plant. Yvonne can no longer use her bathroom, the Field Mouse family have to move and the ants are dizzy with the detours they've had to make. Even Mr. Gnome is impacted by the growth of the plant's stem and leaves and now yellow flowers, all virtually trapping him in his house. At an emergency meeting, they agree to cut the plant down. That is, until little Jack helps them see the plant's value in shade, in sight lines and in its newly formed fruit.
From And Then the Seed Grew by Marianne Dubuc
Teachers will find And Then the Seed Grew a charming way to teach a plant's life cycle. From the breaking of the seed coat to the first root and leaves to the flowers and fruit and then seed again, young readers will learn about how a plant grows. And though there are supernatural elements–I have yet to see a sprite or gnome around my tomato plants–there are important lessons about the interrelationship of living things and the complexity of ecosystems below ground. Marianne Dubuc's cutaway illustrations make a segment of the natural world, albeit a fantastic one, up-close and revelatory. But there is so much more to And Then the Seed Grew than just a science lesson.

Marianne Dubuc's story, originally published in French as Le jardin de Jaco (2018),  does much to support Ralph Waldo Emerson's idea that a weed is but a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered. All the creatures of this community are feeling the impact of a new arrival, so different than anything they've known, but they all benefit from its presence, not the least of which is the building of that community to one of friendships. I know it's just a tomato plant and just a few mythical and some earthly creatures, but And Then the Seed Grew could be an allegory of accepting new members into our community who may be unfamiliar and even initially unsettling because of our own perceptions of their impacts. But, the creatures of And Then the Seed Grew recognize in time that with tolerance comes fruitful blessings. It's a universal lesson of acceptance.
From And Then the Seed Grew by Marianne Dubuc

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