If you’ve been reading here at Hope Is the Word for very long, you already know a little bit about our sunflower saga (part I, part II, part III). You also know that not many opportunities go by that I can’t find a book for! 😉 I knew for a couple of weeks that we were going to try to take a field trip to the sunflower patch, so I gathered all the resources I could readily find at the library on one of our weekly trips. These are the books we read:
Sunflower House, written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt, is the story of a family that sows their sunflower seeds in a circle, and the result is their very own sunflower house. This sweet story details all the fun they have inside this house until the sunflowers begin to droop. The children attempt to fix the wilting flowers, and failing that, they begin collecting and scattering the seeds against next year’s need for something bright and sunny to brighten their days. This story contains a hint of foreshadowing which I thought was really neat for a story that is obviously geared to rather young children. Lulu picked up on the fact that this story is similar in its ending to Miss Rumphius, which was a proud Mama moment. Highly recommended!
A Handful of Sunshine: Growing a Sunflower by Melanie Eclare is one of those books that might seem dated pretty quickly because it has actual photographs for its illustrations (thus, clothing and hairstyles are very noticable), but it is in fact the photographs that make this book so good. This is a large book–about 11 1/2 square inches on the cover–and it contains lots of close-ups. There are close-ups of the little girl, Tilda, digging her hole for the sunflower seeds, a two-page spread of her planting them, a close-up of the newly sprouted plant, and best of all, the huge sunflower featured on the inside of the front and back covers. The book even includes a step-by-step pictorial entitled “Growing Instructions” at the end. This book is especially appropriate for preschoolers due to the age of the little girl in the story and because it is very simply told.
I saved my favorite, which I’ve written about before, for last. To Be Like the Sun by Susan Marie Swanson is by far the most abstract and poetic of the trio in today’s post, and for that reason I think it might appeal to older children better than the other two. Its illustrations, though, are very simple, so it is also accessible to the younger set. I wouldn’t mind adding this one to our collection, I like it so much.
I actually had great plans for some sunflowers this year in our little square foot garden. However, we ran out of space in the beds, so we ended up planting several seeds in a large flower pot. As the temperatures, heat indexes (indices?), and humidity soared, I went out into our backyard less and less. It turns out that we did grow a couple of sunflowers, but I learned a valuable lesson: these plants must require more growing room than just a flower pot. These are the two flowers we grew:
The healthy flower grew to a great height–about a foot taller than I am, and I’m about 5’8″. The poor little droopy one is about eye-level to me.
I have been inspired by reading the Handbook of Nature Study blog, and I was particularly inspired by this post on sunflowers. Therefore, I have to credit Barb-Harmony Art Mom with clueing me in to The Great Sunflower Project, although once I mentioned it to Steady Eddie, I found out he knew about it all along. (He is a great untapped source of scientific educational knowledge!) This looks like something fun for next year.