The Picture Book Buzz

Planting Friendships - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

While there are many pictures books about friendship, this one is unusual. Not only is this book collaboratively written by three authors, but it features three main characters - Molly, Savera, and Hannah. Three girls from different religious backgrounds who team up to nurture trees for a school project and end up growing a very special friendship as well.


Planting Friendships: Peace, Salaam, Shalom


Authors: Callie Metler, Shirin Rahman, & Melissa Stoller


Illustrator: Kate Talbot


Publisher: Clear Fork Media Group (2021)


Ages: 5-8


Fiction



Themes:

Friendship, kindness, diversity, and conservation.


Synopsis:

When they meet on the first day of school, three girls realize they are different from each other - Molly is Christian, Savera is Muslim, and Hannah is Jewish. Through a class planting project, the girls' friendship blossoms, and they learn they are more alike than they thought. Written by three women authors from the same faith traditions as the girls in the story, this book brings more kindness and understanding into the world.


Opening Lines:

On the first day of school, the wind rattled

and leaves swirled.


What I LIKED about the book:

From the opening spread, we know we are in for a special treat. Kate Talbot draws the reader into the eclectic nature of the city, with the varied roof, colors, and house styles, and the oasis in the midst of it all - the school - surrounded by a circular fence and swirling leaves. Currently empty, it sits ready and waiting for the kids to arrive for the first day of school.

Text © Melissa Stoller, Callie Metler, & Shirin Rahman, 2021.

Image © Kate Talbot, 2021.


As they prepare for school, the three girls nervously worry about making friends. Despite their different family makeups and their different religious backgrounds, for each girl, a parent or grandparent offers them gentle reassurance and gives them a special necklace.


Kate Talbot's lovely pastel colors, and integration of nature into every image, helps create such a cozy and comforting book. In addition, the wonderful diversity of ages, genders, nationalities, abilities, and body sizes seen here as the girls head toward school, is mirrored in the classroom.

Text © Melissa Stoller, Callie Metler, & Shirin Rahman, 2021.

Image © Kate Talbot, 2021.


Noticing each other's necklace, as they enter the classroom, a tiny seed of friendship takes root. When each girl's planting project fails, they team up and work together. Each remembering something that their parent or grandparent has said, which applies to growing plants and budding friendships, like "Things grow with care, kindness, and love."


This time, as the year progresses, their project suceeds. I love that as we get to see them explore each other's holidays, the text simply says, "As the girls’ plants grew, their friendship blossomed." Succinctly creating three nearly wordless spreads that will delight kids as they look for the special items associated with each holiday tucked into the pictures.

Text © Melissa Stoller, Callie Metler, & Shirin Rahman, 2021.

Image © Kate Talbot, 2021.


When the time arrives to transfer their plants to new homes in the aptly named Peace Park, we see how deep their friendship has grown. The ending, as sweet, gentle, and inclusive as the rest of the book, satisfyingly wraps up this beautiful story of friendship and conservation. A great book for easing fears and nerves at the beginning of the school year or changing schools, for starting conversations about other holidays and traditions, for encouraging care of the environment, and most of all for encouraging friendships regardless of any external, social, or religious differences.


Resources:

- make a friend with someone new to your school, neighborhood, or team.

- make a friendship bracelet for an old and a new friend (https://www.howweelearn.com/awesome-bracelets-for-kids-to-make/).

- plant your own seed or seedling. When it's big enough plant it in your yard, or give it a bigger pot and put it on your deck or grow it inside.

- write a story, or draw a picture, about something that made your nervous and what helped you feel better.

- did you "spot the seven objects in the girl's homes"? Check out the list in the back of the book and see if you can find them all.


If you missed it, be sure to check out Monday's interview with Melissa Stoller, Callie Metler, and Shirin Rahman (here).


This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

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Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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