‘On the top of a hill, above a meadow, lived a huge tree covered in little seeds….’
Most of them can’t wait to fly away to Who Knows Where, but one particularly small seed doesn’t want to let go, so the tree allows it to stay. Who Knows Where might not be very welcoming, and the tree has such a tender heart that it doesn’t want the tiny seed to get too wet or cold. Day after day, the tree provides the best of care, and day after day, both tree and seed worry about the future. But even the most assiduous of parents cannot protect their young forever. One morning, while the tree is sleeping, a magpie swoops down, grabs the seed and drops it. Many seasons come and go, and all the tree can do is wonder. Until, one warm day, it hears a voice drifting up from the ground below. All by itself, the tiny seed made a safe journey and became a ‘sapling, beautiful and strong….’
This timeless story about growing up and moving on was first published in Italy more than a decade ago, and has been much admired for the way it addresses complex issues in an imaginative and accessible way. Giordano’s illustrations have an understated and gently sophisticated presence that may not attract the attention of UK families used to more dominant artwork, but those who do engage will be rewarded. Graphic lines explore the pages, rounding as they bulge into seeds and birds, splitting into tiny raindrops and creating patterns out of grass and foliage. There’s movement here, despite the interest in surface pattern and design – Giordano is an animator, as well as an illustrator, and it’s easy to imagine pressing ‘play’ on each spread and watching as it comes to life.
Valentini’s story is carefully considered and well told, but I suspect the original Italian reads better than this translation, which can feel a little pedestrian in places. It does its job, though – Stay, Little Seed is a welcome addition to the bookshelves, and it’s great that Greystone Kids are making it available to English-speaking audiences.