December 9, 2010
Review: Red in the Flower Bed by Andrea Nepa
Red in The Flower Bed is a children’s book that takes on a difficult topic—interracial adoption—and manages to explain it simply and beautifully. Although I haven’t dealt with this topic personally, I imagine that this type of book would be a godsend to parents who have adopted a child from another ethnicity who are beginning to be ask questions like “Why do I look different from you?” Although the focus is on interracial adoption, I think the book could work for talking to any adopted child.
Using a gardening analogy to illustrate adoption, Nepa’s simple story is easy for any child to understand and relate to their lives. The story starts with a seed dropping from a bright red poppy flower. Unfortunately, the soil is too dry for the seed to grow so the wind takes it “from east to west” until the little seed is dropped into a garden. The other flowers are excited to see what the little seed will grow up to be. When the seed finally blooms, she is a bright red poppy flower. Looking at the other flowers, she sees zinnias, snapdragons, pea blossoms and more. Then a daisy points out how the addition of the red poppy helped to make a complete rainbow in the garden. The story is told in short rhymes and is accompanied by brightly colored and patterned illustrations that look like they were made by layering paper.
I thought the garden analogy was a wonderful way to explain the concept of interracial adoption. It is non-threatening, easy to understand and yet manages to convey several important messages:
- Seeds/children need the right environment in which to grow and finding that environment might require a seed/child to travel to another place.
- Gardens/families can be made up of flowers/people of all colors, shapes and sizes.
Perhaps the best way to appreciate the gentle tone and feel of the book is to share some of its pages.
My Final Recommendation
I think this book is a wonderful way to introduce the concept of adoption to young children who are curious about adoption or why they may look different from their family members. The message of the book is simple but powerful: children need to find the right place to grow and flourish. The analogy of a poppy seed growing up in a colorful garden with many different types of flowers further illustrates the idea of diversity in families. The gentle tone and soothing color palette of the book help make the ideas and concepts non-threatening and easy to understand. If you or someone you know is looking for a children’s book to help start a discussion about adoption, I think this book would be a wonderful starting point.