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The Children's Bookshelf: Moving Words About a Flower - June 27, 2022

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Moving Words About a Flower written by K.C. Hayes and illustrated by Barbara Chotiner tells the story of a dandelion’s unique life span. The attraction of the reader’s eyes and ears is due to both the bright colors, especially the luscious yellow of the dandelions, and the physical placement of the words in concrete poetry style.

It all starts with a thunderstorm and then a beautiful rainbow. The rainbow, built out of words, crosses a two-page spread moving from the left to the right. “Suddenly the sun came out and with it, a rainbow. And though they say rainbows end at a pot of gold, this rainbow ended right above a crack in the sidewalk.” And what does an investigating young boy find in that crack-----a very small dandelion sprout!

The steps in the life of a dandelion are shown visually within the story as well as discussed in the back materials. From a small taproot that pushes into the ground allowing a seedling to appear, to the growing of leaves, the budding and flowering of gorgeous yellow flowers with beautiful, busy bees aboard and then the closing and opening again as a ball of delicate white seeds appear. The illustration of a little girl gently picking up this dandelion and with a “whoosh” sending the seeds on their way is gorgeous.

Moving Words About a Flower written by K.C. Hayes and illustrated by Barbara Chotiner is a well-told and well-designed picture book for children 3-7 years of age (Charlesbridge,2022).

The Children’s Bookshelf is a production of WCMU. Links to the podcast and the Activity Questions can be found at Children’s Bookshelf dot org.

Activity Questions for Moving Words About a Flower

If you were asked to tell the story of a flower, what flower would you select? You can look outside for real flowers or look in books for pictures of flowers. Why did you select the flower you did? Now, after examining its shape, color and beauty draw a picture of your favorite flower.

Have you ever found a dandelion sprout in a crack as the little boy in this book did? Have you ever blown on a dandelion that has turned into lovely white seeds as the girl in this book did? The pictures in this book show how beautifully the seeds move and tumble away. Pretend you are one of those balls of seeds and move through the air. Be sure your arms and head and whole body are part of your dance.

Older readers: Have you ever experienced concrete poetry before? Look back through this book and find your favorite example of this form of poetry. Remember, in concrete poetry the pattern of the words on the page reveal a shape.

Sue Ann Martin is professor emerita of Communication and Dramatic Arts and the founding and past Dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts at Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. She first became interested in children’s literature when she wrote her PhD thesis on the oral characteristics of the Caldecott Award-winning children’s books. Her PhD is in Speech and Interpretation with a cognate in Early Childhood Education. She went on to review children’s books for the Detroit Free Press, write three popular resource books for teachers regarding children’s books and the creative process. She also reviewed newly-published books for Arts Almanac specials on WCMU Public Radio. Her 2002 children’s books special for WCMU won a Merit Award in Special Interest Programming from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.