CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 11 . . . . February 3, 2006
Barefoot Books, which is headquartered in Massachusetts, has as its tag line, "Celebrating Art and Story." The company has lived up to this descriptor with its many anthologies and, with The Boy Who Grew Flowers, has truly celebrated all that is good in a picture book.
New York author Jen Wojtowicz makes her picture book debut here, as does Montreal graphic artist Steve Adams.
The tone of the folk-art pictures, done with acrylics on board, matches the fairytale quality of the text which pulls readers into another world from the opening page:
Rink's secret talent, among his many unusually-attributed relatives, is the ability to "sprout flowers all over his body at the full moon." He is a quiet boy, seen as somehow unusual by his peers. He observes but does not participate in school affairs until the thoughtful Angelina Quiz appears in the classroom one day.
Angelina's problem is that one of her legs is shorter than the other. The announcement of a community dance, to which Angelina says she cannot go, inspires Rink to painstakingly fashion a pair of special snakeskin slippers with one sole thicker than the other. Rick presents them to her, along with a bouquet of roses he has just picked from the top of his head. When Angelina puts the slippers on, she and Rink dance the night away. It is the beginning of many nights and years of dancing together - as well as gardening with the seven children they eventually have.
The Boy Who Grew Flowers is a story of understanding differences and giving of oneself that will warm the hearts of many readers, both children and adult. Recommended for most public library and school collections.
Ellen Heaney is Head of Children's Services at the New Westminster Public Library in New Westminster, BC.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.