Three Lost Seeds: Stories of Becoming (Tilbury House Nature Book) (Hardcover)
To author Stephie Morton, nature's powerful forces are a metaphor for the hardships faced by displaced children. Kids, like seeds, thrive when given a chance.
Each of the three seeds in this story—a cherry seed in the Middle East, an acacia seed in Australia, and a lotus seed in Asia—survives a difficult journey through flood, fire, or drought, then sprouts (in the case of the lotus seed, a hundred years later) and flourishes.
Stephie's verses and Nicole Wong's art make a picture book to treasure.
Nicole Wong was raised by a designer/painter dad and a fashion illustrator mom and never thought of becoming anything except an illustrator. She has illustrated twenty-five children’s books with collage, egg tempera, oils, watercolor, ink, and other media, including Three Lost Seeds (Tilbury House, 2019) and I’ll Be the Water (Tilbury House, 2020). Her illustrations for Kiyoshi’s Walk (Lee and Low, 2021) earned starred reviews from Kirkus (“captivating”) and SLJ (“wonderful”).
A STEM story of nature's resilience.
Rhyming text follows, in turn, three seeds that each overcome natural barriers and disasters to eventually thrive and grow into the "plant it was planning to be." A bird takes a cherry, then drops it into a stream, but the little pit ends up taking root in muddy soil by the stream, and it grows into a tree. Wong adds visual interest to her scientifically accurate illustrations of flora by depicting, here, a Muslim family unmentioned by text with two children and a mother wearing hijab, first picnicking by the stream and then later (the children now bigger) picking cherries from the tree. In the next part of the book, a forest fire brings destruction, but it also unearths an acacia seed brought deep underground by ants. This little seed then grows as part of reforestation. The third seed drifts in a pod until an earthquake drains the lake in which it floated. Wong's art shows a child who appears Asian gazing at it upon cracked, barren ground. A page turn delivers a dramatic fast-forward: "When rain filled the crater / ONE HUNDRED YEARS later, / the lotus seed drank up and GREW!"
Strong backmatter provides more information about seeds and seed banks, bolstering an already excellent offering. Seed shelves with this title to grow STEM readers.
— Kirkus Reviews
PreS-Gr 3–This book captures the stories of three seeds (a cherry seed, an acacia seed, and a lotus seed) that start out lost and end up right where they are supposed to be. They survive floods, fires, earthquakes, and even the passing of 100 years in order to eventually thrive, blossom, and grow. When given what they need to survive, namely water and sunlight, and the right climate, these seeds display their unique magic and remind readers that everyone is capable of growing if given the right opportunity. Morton’s lyrical, rhyming verses pair perfectly with Wong’s beautiful illustrations, made using collage, egg tempura, oils, watercolor, ink, and a mix of other media. Readers are transported across the world from a forest of cherry trees, to an Australian bush land full of acacias, all the way to a pond in Asia sprouting up locusts on stunning and realistic spreads. The forces of nature here are a powerful metaphor for the challenges faced by the many displaced children of the world. This book is a wonderful reminder that “like seeds, children thrive when given the chance.”
VERDICT With its important message and stunning illustrations, this picture book is a great addition for most collections.
— School Library Journal
This book sweetly follows three seeds (cherry, acacia, and lotus) as they are moved from their original location, then put through difficult circumstances (flood, wildfire, earthquake), and finally are given the chance to sprout and grow. The rhyming text and illustrations lighten the story from a traditional nonfiction book about seeds. The author’s note at the end adds a lot of context, both to add more information about seeds, but also to introduce the deeper theme: “this story of seeds is like the stories of refugee children who are separated from their families and forced to leave their homes. Like seeds, children thrive when given the chance.”
This book benefits from reading it with an adult. It would make a great read-aloud for a teacher when their class is learning about plant life cycles, or with older elementary kids to discuss deeper themes in picture books. Kids who are really into plants would likely enjoy reading it on their own.
— Stephanie Tournas - Youth Services Book Review