January 12, 2023

Sprout Branches Out

Written and illustrated by Jessika von Innerebner
Roaring Brook Press
40 pp.
Ages 3-7
January 2023
While some young people are happy to stay close to home, there are others who are driven to see what's out there, to take on a challenge of finding their own way and maybe something different and better. This story is for all who wonder about unimaginable opportunities and take the chance to find out.
From Sprout Branches Out by Jessika von Innerebner
Sprout lives on a porch with an assortment of other plants. But Sprout is not growing. She has only two leaves and she is convinced that if she were in the wild with bigger and wiser trees, real light and loads of water then she would flourish. One day, a flyer comes to the house promising a wonderful experience in nature and Sprout packs her bag and says, "Seed ya later!"
From Sprout Branches Out by Jessika von Innerebner
Sprout is encouraged by what she sees in the woods: loads of trees, some so leafy they have beards; animals; bushes; and grass. Then night comes.
She wanted the woods to put leaves on her chest, not make her shake like one!
From Sprout Branches Out by Jessika von Innerebner
 She heads out again, this time reaching an old growth forest where she is sure that with the knowledge of the tall and wise trees she will begin to grow. But their knowledge is far beyond her reach.
Let's dig in so you can hit a growth spurt. We'll start with math and square roots.
Again, Sprout moves on. This time she finds herself in a moist jungle, convinced the excess moisture will do the trick. But it, like the other places, is not what she expects or needs. Of course, this is when she realizes there is no place like home.

Kelowna's Jesssika von Innerebner has illustrated a number of picture books and chapter books, as well as written her own series, Kevin the Unicorn, but Sprout Branches Out is her first book for me to review on CanLit for LittleCanadians. If her wordplay and artwork in Sprout Branches Out is any indication of her talent, then I've been missing out. It's the playfulness of her art and her words that will tickle a young reader–and this old one–while telling a story about growing up and moving on but knowing that home can still be a pretty great place to be. Sprout's innocence is laced with hope for something better but her puns and those of her co-characters take the reader from the serious message to one of laughs. But, Jessika von Innerebner is first and foremost an artist and her illustrations reflect her expertise in bringing images to her message. They are lively and lighthearted and though she may stick primarily with a green palette–appropriate for a story characterized by plants and the wilds of the natural world–she gives us boldness and diversity of colour to show us the richness of Sprout's familiar and unfamiliar worlds.
We all know that the grass isn't always greener on the other side but sometimes you have to go take a look so that you can know how green your grass really is. For some, the journey will encourage us to seek out a new life but for others it will be a reminder that growth can happen at home too. (By the way, if your little one decides to start their own sprout, instructions are included.) For Sprout, she had to go out into the wild to come to the realization that home was a good place for her to grow. I guess branching out can sometimes lead to sticking to your roots.

No comments:

Post a Comment