________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 17 . . . . April 18, 2008


One Watermelon Seed.

Celia Barker Lottridge. Illustrated by Karen Patkau.
Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2008.
32 pp., hardcover, $17.95.
ISBN 978-1-55455-034-0.

Subject Headings:
Counting-Juvenile literature.
Gardening-Juvenile literature.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 3-7.

Review by Linda Ludke.

**** /4

Reviewed from f&g’s.


Max and Josephine planted a garden. They planted one watermelon seed ... and it grew. They planted two pumpkin seeds... and they grew.

In this reissue of a celebrated counting book, a brother and sister tend their garden. They plant a variety of seeds and plants, from “one watermelon seed” to “ten corn seeds.” On each page, a  number line runs below the repetitive text. During the summer, the “seeds and the leaves, the stalks and the vines grew and grew and grew.” Max and Josephine soon have a bounty of produce to pick, and this time the numbers increase by tens: “They both picked fifty tomatoes, plump and juicy, and sixty blueberries, small and round.” On a cold winter night, they continue to enjoy their garden harvest by digging into a bowl of 1000s of popcorn kernels. 

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     Compared to the original 1986 edition, the most striking difference is Karen Patkau’s fresh new illustrations. In the earlier edition, Patkau used a collage technique. In this updated version, the bright, digitally enhanced pictures seem to leap off the page. The artful composition features a variety of perspectives, including a glimpse of roots growing below the soil. Colour combinations, such as baskets of yellow peppers beside purple eggplants, are both visually striking and mouth-watering. To reinforce primary math concepts, the string beans are grouped on a serving platter in piles of tens, and the ears of corn are arranged in ten bushel baskets. 

     Celia Lottridge’s text remains unchanged. The simple and effective sentences appear in white space at the bottom of the page along with the number line. In the 1986 edition, only one number was included on each page which created confusion with the page numbering. Other new features include two pages showing cross sections of the produce. When children “Look inside the garden fruits and vegetables,” they will be introduced to seed patterns. A search-and-find game with twelve insects and small creatures on the last page also encourages close inspection.  

     One Watermelon Seed offers countless (pun intended!) early learning opportunities and is a valuable resource for all school and public library collections.    

Highly Recommended.

Linda Ludke is a librarian in London, ON .    

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

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