To Be Like the Sun

All around our bird feeder and beyond sunflowers grow; I've learned to recognize the babies and, within reason, I let them be when I weed. This is peak sunflower time--in a few weeks, most of the stems will have been broken by greedy chipmunks and squirrels.

To Be Like the Sun, by Susan Marie Swanson, illustrated by Margaret Chodos-Irvine (Harcourt, 2008), is a beautiful sunflower picture book. "Hello, little seed, striped gray seed. Do you really know everything about sunflowers?" a little girl asks on the first page. And the seed does, growing up to the sun until summer passes. When winter comes, the little girl holds her flower's seeds:

"and a sunflower seed
is smaller than a word,
but I remember:
you were taller than everyone."

Lovely poetry, I think, and indeed part of the text began life as a poem published in Swanson's collection Getting used to the Dark: 26 Night Poems (1997). In expanded form, it still reads like a prose poem. Indeed, it is the most pleasant book about seeds to read out loud I've yet encountered. With many books, I change the text as I read--but not the ones like this, that don't need any fixing. The illustrations are pattern and texture rich, large pictures that make the book a good one for reading out loud to a group.

Here at Cynsations is a great interview with Susan Marie Swanson from last April, when this book came out. And here's another review, at Pink Me.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Big A little a today.

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