Subtitled a "Story of Encouragement for All Ages," the Trellis and the Seed tells the story of how "God has planned something beautiful" for even the tiniest, most unassuming little seed.
The tiny seed begins its mysterious journey in the hands of the seemingly omnipotent "Nice Lady," who predicts--much to the seed's disbelief--that it will make a "beautiful vine with sweet-smelling blossoms." Even as the Nice Lady plants the seed, erects an ambitious trellis, waits for rain, adds fertilizer, and performs all her other nurserial oblations, the seed continues to be baffled by its caretaker's faith. ("It was only a seed, and very, very small. How could it ever be a beautiful vine with blossoms?") How indeed? Suffice it to say, God doesn't send a crafty bird to eat the seed in a harrowing third-act changeup.
Jan Karon's story of patience and faith shows the same folksy charm that infuses her Mitford Years series, and her gentle words find a soothing complement in the skilled, muted watercolors of Robert Gantt Steele (of the Her Story series). (Ages 4 to 8) --Paul Hughes
Grade 1-3-In this heavy-handed story, a tiny seed faces what seem like insurmountable odds, but slowly grows and eventually reaches its full potential. Although the Nice Lady talks to it of what it will become, it does not believe it will ever be anything but small. Planted in front of a huge trellis that seemed "a million trillion feet high," it can't imagine ever climbing that high. Still, with the help of the rain and a little time, the plant makes it most of the way up before it wearies. Then the Nice Lady comes out, hums a little tune, and applies "something smelly around the roots," and the vine finally makes it to the top of the trellis and produces white flowers that bloom in the moonlight. This sentimental tale will appeal to those who like their allegories neat and straight up. Featuring colorful, flower-bedecked depictions of a country cottage, Steele's static watercolors monotonously reflect the story's action. Watty Piper's straightforward The Little Engine That Could (Platt & Munk, 1930) conveys the same message without the precious language and has a lot more child appeal.
Susan Hepler, Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA
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