A Season of Flowers by Michael Garland. Tilbury House Publishers, 9780884488644, c2018, 2021
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or Starred review) 3
Genre: Concept — Seasons
What did you like about the book? Across twelve spreads, in rhyming couplets and busy digital collage illustrations, thirteen flowers introduce themselves— and the four seasons in which they variously do or don’t appear (accurate to North America). Garland plays the hits, and although some readers might remark the absence of the sunflower, or that dogwood stands in for cherry blossoms, the blooms on display are the most recognizable scions of their respective seasons in this part of the world. Garland’s flowers— and the animals that flock to them— are smartly rendered, with paper and textile patterns that enhance their appeal: immature lupine racemes are picked out in green houndstooth, and tawny high-pile carpet brings an illusion of life-like depth to chipmunk, deer, and rabbit fur. This title should serve equally well in one-on-one and small group reading sessions, and doubles as a gentle introduction to pollination, seed dispersal, food webs, and invasive species (scarab beetle Popillia japonica appears in profusion, since: “Beetles love roses, everyone warns. / Nothing will stop them, not even my thorns”).
Anything you didn’t like about it? At times, Garland’s verses are a bit rhythmically awkward (e.g. “A chipmunk finds food and does some good deeds. / I can grow wild when he spreads by seeds”). The names of seasons appear in larger type, and are patterned rather artlessly— reminiscent more than anything of the Geronimo Stilton gimmick; in general, Garland’s free use of patterned papers— as much for background as focal images— might leave some readers wishing his access to scrapbook paper had been ever so slightly curtailed. Finally, the gamboling children of the front and rear covers are entirely absent from the book proper; while their skin tones are varied, the only children to appear within the boards of the book are a white child on the reverse of the rear cover, and an archival photograph of Garland (also white) as a child, on the final facing board.
To whom would you recommend this book? A good secondary purchase for collections serving young children.
Who should buy this book? Early childhood education centers, public libraries
Where would you shelve it? Board books
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Zeb Wimsatt, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA
Date of review: 18 June 2021