________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 12 . . . .February 18, 2005


Celestine and the Magical Geranium.

Barbara Sala.
Victoria, BC: Trafford Publishing, 2004.
40 pp, pbk. $24.99.
ISBN 1-4120-1905-2.

Subject Heading:
Geraniums-Juvenile fiction.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 4-6.

Review by Lorraine Douglas.

* /4



People, oh so many people, climb the mysterious flower. They touch her petals, smell her special perfume and enter the many rooms of her castle. They break off Geranium's leaves, smash her windows, and rip off her rainbow-coloured sparkles and carry them away.

"Celestine," weeps Geranium, "I am getting very tired. My stem hurts and I am trembling under the weight of all these people. I can't stand it anymore. I am going to close all my windows and all my doors. Good bye."

The soldiers of the island hurry to rescue Geranium, but when they arrive, it is too late.


This picture book is a parable in which a young girl, Celestine, receives the gift of a seed in a bag of potatoes on her famine ravaged island. The seed becomes a mysterious geranium which grows because of love and kindness. The plant can talk to Celestine and becomes a castle with many rooms. Everyone is entranced by the geranium, and hordes come to visit, and they eventually kill the plant. The geranium gives Celestine a final gift with all the seeds she has left behind and so everyone has their own "loving geranium."

     This on-demand publication is awkwardly designed. The pamphlet folded paperback is centre stapled, and the opening page contains the title, author, a decorated initial and the first sentence of the story. Most readers who are knowledgeable about book design will try to start reading on the next recto page even though the pages are numbered. The illustrations were originally done in oil and acrylic on board, and they are vividly coloured and have a naive quality and charm. Each painting is signed by the artist which is unusual in a picture book, and this addition gives the impression that the paintings were done first and a story imagined later. The illustrations are not integrated with the sans serif text which appears in coloured boxes.

     One of the themes of this story is the cycle of life and the expression of love through giving. There are other books on this theme, like The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (HarperCollins, 1969), which express more poignancy and appeal through a more eloquent use of language.

Not Recommended

Lorraine Douglas was the Coordinator of Youth Services for the Winnipeg Public Library and is now retired and living in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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