Volume 2 Number 4

image Toni and the Dandelions.

Vivian Hitchman. Illustrations by Steve Pilcher.
Music composed by Mark Ferguson.
Oakville: Grassroots Press, 1994. 36pp, cloth.
$19.95 / $25.95 with cassette / $34.95 with cassette and Teacher's Activity kit.
ISBN 0-9695997-1-4 (book).
ISBN 0-9695997-2-2 (cassette).
ISBN 0-9695997-0-6 (book and cassette).
ISBN 0-9695997-3-0 (teacher's kit, book, and cassette).
Distribution by Addison-Wesley Publishers.

Kindergarten - grade 2 / Ages 5 - 7.
Review by Brenda Partridge.


Toni loves dandelions. Every spring, Toni and her pet cat, Roop, play with the dandelions in the orchard. Toni serves dandelion soup, dandelion salad and dandelion tea. She makes dandelion bracelets, necklaces and flowery crowns. When the dandelion flowers turn white, Toni blows the fluffy seeds into the air. As they float away she whirls and twirls, dancing the dandelion twirl.

"A weed is just a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

As spring emerges into summer and the lawns and fields fill with golden dandelions, young children spend much time picking and presenting the colourful weeds to their favourite adults. When the golden heads turn to white fluff , those same young children delight in blowing the dandelion seeds into the world. To provide a permanent recollection of such memories, Vivian Hitchman has written a delightful, fanciful adventure of a young girl called Toni.


Toni becomes quite concerned about her springtime fun when her dad tells her that he is going to "mow down the dandelions in the orchard." As she lies in bed, gazing at her ceiling mobile of golden lions and contemplating the fate of the dandelions, the mobile-lions come to life and start singing a tune. They invite her to follow them through the window and into a jungle of giant green and yellow and white dandelions.

Toni's journey into the land of giant dandelions allows her to meet Simon, king of the lions -- king of the dandelions. Together they do the dandelion twirl until Toni remembers that her dad is going to cut the dandelions. Simon assures her that she need not worry, and the surprise ending proves him correct.


Dandelions are familiar to most young children. In this large picture book, Vivian Hitchman has used this common-place weed to create a fantasy even the very young will understand. She uses a minimum of vocabulary on each page to allow the very simple and effective illustrations of Steve Filcher to clearly convey the story to the reader or listener. I am impressed with the section at the back of the book that gives the historic origin of dandelions and tells where and why they are grown. Also included are instructions for three different ways to create an indoor dandelion garden -- a marvellous idea for a science-fair project!

Grassroots Press tells us that Vivian Hitchman is a commercial writer and photographer from Oakville, Ontario, who specializes in producing corporate newsletters and brochures. This multimedia package is her first project for children. Illustrator Steve Pilcher, from Toronto, won a silver award in 1991 for his work on Norbert Nipkin and the Magic Riddle Stone. Composer Mark Cassius Ferguson wrote the score and Hitchman herself narrates on the tape. She is accompanied by the St. Andrew's Children's Choir, and several actors who play the various parts.

The teacher's activity kit, prepared by the author and Sharyrn Panchuk, teacher of Mathematics and Design and Technology for the City of Hamilton, provides 63 pages of activities and blackline masters in the areas of: Arts; Language; Mathematics; Science, Design, and Technology; and Self and Society. Of particular interest to Ontario educators is that all activities are based on the Common Curriculum.

You can download a 26 second image audio exerpt of Toni and the Dandelions in aiff format (198K).


Brenda Partridge is a Library-Resource teacher at Percy Centennial Public School in Warkworth, Ontario.

Copyright © 1995 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364

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