Book Review: I Am the Seed That Grew the Tree, edited by Fiona Waters

A poem for every day of the year, beautifully illustrated, with authors ranging from modern poets to classic writers like William Blake, Emily Dickinson and William Shakespeare.

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Fiona Waters has been associated with books for children as an author, publisher, bookseller and reviewer all her working life. This incredible collection of nature poems, one for every day of the year, including extra for leap years, is a lavish creation; a high-quality coffee table sized book which deserves to be a classic among poetry anthologies. There are poems from a wide range of authors such as William Blake, Emily Dickinson, Roger McGough, Christina Rossetti and William Shakespeare.

In 2011, Frann Preston-Gannon was the first UK recipient of the Maurice Sendak scholarship and she has clearly learned from the best. She published her first picture book in 2012 and has written and illustrated numerous children’s books. The beautiful illustrations in this tome, each across a double page, are flawlessly matched with the changing seasons. They reflect the beauty of nature in the new life of spring and its bright colours, to more muted colours and mists, partly obscuring deer and bare trees in November.

The carefully selected poems range from anonymous little ditties such as Riddle for the April 10 date:

Runs all day and never walks
Often murmurs, never talks.
It has a bed, but never sleeps;
It has a mouth but never eats.  (A river)

…to classics such as William Wordsworth’s Daffodils on March 31 or Judith Wright’s Magpies for September 17. The collection also includes lesser known poems from modern writers such as the Rastafarian poet Benjamin Zephaniah’s Luv Song for October 26, which begins:

I am in luv wid a wild hedgehog
I’ve never felt dis way before
I have luv for dis hedgehog
An everyday I luv her more an more

Of course, as we are in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are in the wrong months for us but that in no way detracts from the enjoyment of the book. Other reviewers have written of the book becoming a permanent fixture on their coffee table.

With a ribbon marker, younger children can mark their favourite picture and pester the grown-ups until that day’s poem is read to them. I can well imagine the book becoming a favourite with the whole family.

Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Jan Kershaw

Rating out of 10:  10

Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Released: September 2018
RRP: $49.99 hardcover

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