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The Tiny Seed - Eric Carle

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3 Reviews

Genre: Junior Books / Author: Eric Carle / Edition: New Ed / Paperback / 32 Pages / Book is published 1997-08-28 by Puffin Books

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    3 Reviews
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      05.05.2013 22:15
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      Very educational for little ones, but even better just as a story.

      I'm not quite sure why I hadn't bought this book before, as I very clearly remember a teacher reading this when I was very young, perhaps 5 years old. We then painted paper plates and pasted big yellow petals around them. But for some reason, I never got around to buying it when my son was younger. But as my boys are going through a stage of being fascinated by plants, I bought a couple of non fiction plant books for the oldest, and wanted something for my youngest as well. This is technically fiction, as it tells a story from the perspective of the little seed, but it does teach children about the life cycle of plants, in a very clear and easy to understand manner. I will give fair warning that this review does contain spoilers, but I think anyone can guess that the seed will turn into a flower by the picture on the front, not to mention the fact that we couldn't have the full life cycle of the plant if the seed never sprouted or grew to adulthood. There is also the slight possibility of the ending upsetting a child, and when I feel this is the case I do always give spoilers with picture books.

      The book begins with a very tiny seed. It is much smaller than all the others which are being blown along by a strong wind, but still it travels on and on. Most of the seeds never reach their destination as there are many dangers to pass. One flies to high and is burned up by the heat of the sun. Others fall in places where they can not grow, such as on a mountain permanently shrouded in snow, or a dry desert, or deep ocean. The little seed survives though, waiting underground through the winter until the gentle rays of the spring time sun and the rains wake the seeds and they begin to grow into plants. But there are still dangers, and only the little tiny seed keeps growing - and growing and growing.

      This book clearly shows a child how a sees needs light, warmth, water and air to grow, and then as the plant finally becomes a flower, the birds and bees visit it before it can makes seeds of its own. It does not specifically mention pollination, but if your child is old enough to understand this you can mention it if you like. The story ends with the flower's death, so some children may not like the ending. The wind tears off the flower's petals and leaves blowing them away along with a whole new batch of seeds blowing away to start the cycle all over again.

      I've always assumed the little seed is a sunflower seed, as the both the seeds and the flower do look the right shape for a sunflower. The flower itself isn't the right colour, but considering that Eric Carle painted a blue horse and a purple cat in one of his books, I won't take the colour too seriously. The flower ends up far bigger than a sunflower as well, but we'll put that down to artistic license. The pictures are done in Eric Carle's usual collage style. The illustrations are bright and colourful enough to interest a very small child, and do have a very unique style which I have always liked. These books are perfect as inspiration for children's art activities, and there is a simplicity to the illustrations that makes it easy for a child to recreate many of the illustrations, such as the sun and the flowers.

      I enjoyed reading this book. It brought back memories from my own childhood. This book was first published in 1970, and I believe it has been continuously in print since then. The fact that this is still one of the most commonly used books, both in schools and home education circles to teach about the seasons and the growth of plants says something for the timeless nature of this story. There is nothing in this book to date it, it could just have easily been written today.

      At age 8, my oldest is getting a bit too old for this, but he did enjoy listening to it once. My four year old is very much at the right age to enjoy this, although in retrospect, I really should have bought this a couple of years ago. I think this would be an excellent story from age 2 and up. He did not particularly like the fact that the flower dies at the end, but I explained this away saying that some flowers only grow for a year and leave there seeds to make new ones. He still didn't look too pleased and asked if his flowers would die too ( we are growing sunflower seeds) so I told him, some flowers die back to their roots and come up again the next spring. This isn't entirely a lie, some flowers do lie dormant over the winter, but not sunflowers. Oh well, I shall poke enough seeds into the ground where the old ones die to make sure we get new ones in the same spot next spring. But aside from the flower dying he did enjoy the story, he liked the colourful illustrations and enjoyed seeing the little seeds sprouting into plants.

      My son did already know how a seed grows, so I suppose this book wasn't really very educational in our circumstances. However his brother is home educated and he has been listening to many other books on plants recently, as well as starting to grow our own. He even mentioned as the bees came to the flower that they were pollinating it so it could make seeds. He did ask if seeds could really blow so far, over mountains, deserts and oceans and I said no. But despite not being very educational in our circumstances, it was still fun. It was the perfect book to read as we planted our seeds and a very enjoyable story. I would strongly recommend this for a child who does not know the full life cycle of plants yet, but even if they do, it is still worth reading.

      In addition to the teaching the life cycle of the flower, this book does have another message. The hero of our story is the smallest of all the seeds. He is also slower than the others, and can not fly as high in the wind. But this shows that even the littlest ones can be successful, sometimes it just takes a little time for them to bloom. This makes this the perfect story, not just for springtime and planting, but also for those children who are just a little bit slower to blossom, and always feel like they are following behind their peers.

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        15.10.2006 16:57
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        Good for early science and good illustrations

        I use this book with Reception and Year 1 children to teach them about the life cycle of a seed and the seasons and weather conditions associated with each season.

        ~ The story ~

        It is all set in the present tense (which is the only element of this that I'm not overly keen on)

        The story begins in:
        Autumn ~ when the strong wind blows flower seeds and carries them in all different directions.

        Amongst all of the seeds there is one tiny seed and the question is poised as to whether it will be able to keep up with the others.

        It tells of all the hazards faced by seeds, e.g. landing on an icy mountain, falling in to the ocean, landing in the desert where it never rains, being eaten by a bird!

        But thanks to it's 'tiny-ness' the bird doesn't see the tiny seed and it settles down in to the earth........

        Winter ~ As the seeds are in the ground which is covered by snow, a little mouse comes along and eats some of the seeds.

        Spring ~ Sun and rain come along and the seeds begin to open and become plants whereas the tiny seed hasn't started yet.

        One of the smaller plants is overshadowed by a huge weed and dies.

        Another hazard for the new plants are the children who run around and play in the gardens and fields......

        The tiny seed is now beginning to grow but it's friends are much bigger and some are even growing flowers but oh no!!!! a boy comes along and picks the flowering plant and breaks it.

        Summer ~ The tiny seed / plant, continues to grow and grow, taller than the people, the trees, the houses and a flower has grown at the top of it.

        All summer long the bees and butterflies visit the now giant flower .

        Autumn again ~ the wind blows and the flower loses it's petals and out come all of it's seeds that now have a long journey to make!

        ~ Illustrations ~

        For me, the illustrations in this book 'make' it and manage to hold younger children's attention.

        They are incredibly bright, vibrant and bold and use the Eric Carle collage effect trademark style.

        The 'huge' foot of the child standing on the new plants demonstrates to children how big they are in comparison to new plants and does make them think a little more about caring about nature.

        My favourite picture is when the tiny seed is a beautiful, giant flower, rich in vibrant colours thereby attracting bees, butterflies and birds.

        ~ Style ~

        This text is a lot more complex than the other Eric Carle books that I have reviewed. I attempted to read this to Nursery children but changed the text slightly to shorten it so as to hold their attention.

        There is no 'chant' for the children to join in with which is unusual for one of Carle's books.

        ~ Age Range ~

        Due to the length of text and style used, I have found this to be more appropriate for 5 years and upwards, although younger children do like the pictures and rather than reading all of the text, the children can draw a great deal from the drawings.

        ~ Educational values ~

        * Teaches children about the seasons and the weather conditions associated with each season.
        * Educates children to the life-cycle of a seed.
        * Helps children know what is necessary for a seed to grow.
        * With older children, the message of the importance of perseverance can be discussed, i.e. the seed never gave up despite all of the hazards it faced.
        * From a PSE angle the following can be discussed: we all have paths we have to follow, it doesn't matter who is bigger or faster etc because we can all eventually 'bloom' in to beautiful beings.

        ~ Price and Publisher ~

        A range of publishers:
        * Siomn & Schuster Childrens Books
        * Aladdin paperbacks
        * Puffin
        * Scholastic Inc

        My Puffin paperback ISBN: 0-14-055713-X was £4.99 but I have found the following available at www.amazon.co.uk:
        Paperback used and new from £1.20
        Boardbook used and new from £2.37
        Hard cover used and new from 57p

        This isn't my most favourite of Carle's books for pre-school children but it is an invaluable teaching / educational resource for 5 - 7 year olds. Well worth a read for it's science based teaching in story form!

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          19.03.2006 14:02
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          lovely story about growing

          When I started teaching in the 1980's (how old?), Eric Carle was "the " author of the time and his books seemed to take pride of place on the shelves in every primary school library.

          Over the years, with the emergence of so many new authors and a dazzling array of genres, this has changed, but the books can still be found in schools, and are still widely read.

          WHY THE REVIEW?
          Earlier this week, I was asked to teach a science lesson to a class of Key Stage 1 children with "The Tiny Seed" as the starting point.
          Why this book?
          Were there not newer, "better" books to choose from?
          Apparently not, so it was a "return to the past" and what a great revisit it turned out to be.

          THE STORY
          It is basically a story about…wait for it… a tiny seed. No surprises there, and is neatly divided into seasons
          Autumn
          The wind blows, the seeds are blown from the flower and begin their hazardous journey across the land. There is one seed, smaller than the others, and thought provoking questions are asked of the children "Will it be able to keep up with the others?" "Where are they all going?"
          Some of the seeds die on the way, whether by landing in the desert (too hot to grow), landing in the ocean, or falling on an icy mountain (too cold). Great way to talk about conditions needed for plants to grow and survive.
          The tiny seed floats on.
          Winter
          The seeds settle down and wait for…
          Spring
          A very simple but effective description of the weather and what happens to the seeds as they start to grow Again, some of the seeds die along the way, whether they are squashed or picked, but the tiny seed keeps growing
          Summer
          Once again, a description of the weather which enables the tiny seed to grow "on and on" until it is a "giant flower" and people come from all over the place to look at it.
          Autumn
          It is autumn again (cycle of life) and the days grow shorter and the wind blows firstly the petals off the flower and then the flower shakes and the seeds fall off. They blow away and start the cycle all over again.

          THE STYLE
          Simple language and vocabulary which is easily understood by the children.
          There are repeated sentences "It is taller than the people. It is taller than the trees. It is taller than the houses."
          The author poses questions and offers reasons and explanations.
          There are lots of exclamation marks allowing the children time to question and wonder, so encouraging their natural inquisitiveness.

          ILLUSTRATIONS
          Distinctive and easily recognisable as Eric Carle style if you have read any of his other books. Did I spot the same sun in "The very Hungry caterpillar"?
          The illustrations are large, bright and bold, making good use of primary colours and they look almost like a collage.

          OTHER BOOKS BY ERIC CARLE
          Too many to mention (over 70) and some translated into Spanish.
          Some of my favourites over the years are:
          Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What do you Hear? (1991)
          The Very Lonely Firefly (1995)
          Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What do you See? (2003)
          The Very Busy Spider (1984)
          Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See? (1967)
          The Very Quiet Cricket (1990)- check out the sound at the end!
          The Very Hungry Caterpillar (1969)
          Do You Want to be my Friend? (1971)

          WHO IS IT FOR?
          Lovely read aloud and look at the pictures kind of book to read to children from pre school age; will give them a good insight into the growth cycle. They will enjoy talking about what they think might happen to the seed and will love it when the seed becomes a beautiful flower- they love happy endings
          Certainly can be used for parts of the National Curriculum eg QCA Unit 1B Growing Plants and Unit 2B Plants and Animals in the Local Environment.

          WEBSITE
          www. Eric-carle.com

          PRICE:
          Mine was £2.50 but I have seen them on Amazon for £3.99 with used ones from £2.56

          PUBLISHER
          Mine was published by Picture Knight but I have seen them by Little Simon (board book), Puffin, Ty Cowell Co, Aladdin Paperbacks
          I think it has been published by lots of firms so take your pick!

          ISBN
          0-340-42836-8

          Thanks for reading

          Daniela xx

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        • Product Details

          When the tiny seed is blown away from its parent plant, it travels a very long way. When it lands on fertile earth, the tiny seed grows and grows and grows - becoming the tallest, biggest flower for miles around. Then one day the wind blows and thousands of new tiny seeds begin their own journey.