December 7, 2010
Red in the Flower Bed by Andrea Nepa
by Rumor Queen
Red in the Flower Bed claims to be “An Illustrated Children’s Story about Interracial Adoption”.
Reviewing children’s books is different from reviewing grown up books. With grown up books I have to let you know enough of what the book is about, without spoiling. But reviewing children’s books, you have to decide if you think this book is right for your child, so there is no such thing as a spoiler here, is there? With that in mind…
The story starts with:
One day, a seed dropped from a poppy flower onto the earth below. But it was too dry, and the poppy began to cry: “Good-bye little one. You will be missed you know, but this is no place for you to grow.”
And so the wind carries the seed over several pages of whimsical art and rhyming verse until the wind says “I have found on this ground a lovely patch that I think will match.”
We have a brief soujourn through autumn and winter, and then the seeds all begin to sprout, and the the flowers begin to open. Poppy looks around and thinks she is now with her family, and the other flowers look around as well. Red had been missing before, and now they have all of the colors of the rainbow.
Will kids “get” that the poppy might represent them? And if so, will it make them feel better or worse about being a different race than the rest of their family? As is usually the case, I think it probably depends on the kid. I think that if you never mentioned adoption, that some transracially adopted kids would never tie this story in with their own story. Others would immediately pick up on it. I believe that most will probably see it as a positive, as a further affirmation that different can be good.
Red in the Flower Bed is not written to GlitterGirl’s age group, but we read it together last night and she liked the story. She liked that the original poppy flower knew the seed couldn’t grow and thrive there, so she sent it off to another garden on the arms of the wind. She also liked that it gives yet another way of showing that everyone doesn’t have to be the same to be a family. TwinkleToes fell asleep thirty minutes before bedtime, and before we got around to reading time last night — so I’ll have to tell you how she felt about it later. Kindergarten is hard work, apparently.