The Growing Story by Ruth Krauss and Helen Oxenbury
|The Growing Story by Ruth Krauss and Helen Oxenbury|
|Genre: For Sharing|
|Reviewer: Magda Healey|
|Summary: A timeless if somehow old-fashioned story of the seasonal rhythms of nature and the growing of living things (including little children), with charming illustrations and which would make a good present.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 40||Date: May 2008|
|Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books|
This is a revival of a 1947 book by the distinguished US children's author Ruth Krauss, repackaged in a new (but very much in keeping with the traditional character of the story) visual form by Helen Oxenbury of We're Going on a Bear Hunt fame.
The story is, as far as any plot goes, very simple: a little boy and his mum live on a farm. There is also a puppy, and some chicks, and of course plant life, from corn in the fields to apples in the orchard. The boy observes the seasons as spring turns into summer and then the autumn, and as the seasons change, the corn grows, the pears ripen and the animals grow too: the dog is now almost a grown up, and the chicks turned to hens. Everything grows, and is the boy growing too?
It's a nice story, one that pretty much everybody would call charming, and what I liked most about it was the way it showed the rhythm of the changing seasons (though no winter made appearance). The existence of the Boy and his Mother had a timeless quality (despite all this growing going on), brought out by the internal rhythms of the text. Helen Oxenbury's illustrations emphasise this timeless character. They are subtle, gentle and pretty in a cottage garden kind of way (but not actually twee, I hasten to add), with a hint of haze that nostalgia tends to give to older adults' memories of childhood.
I also liked that it was realised from what seemed like both the eye level and the psychological perspective of the child: thus no humans other than Mother appear in the story.
The idea of putting away warm woollens (or, in this time and age, winter polar fleeces) is a recklessly optimistic one in the part of the world I currently live in, but it's not a bad device to show how the boy realises that he's growing as well. For those who don't want to wait until they grow out of clothes, a height chart (up to 135 cm) is included.
All of the above praise notwithstanding, it's not a exactly a very exciting book, and not as exceptional as it probably was when it first appeared. I can see it being liked more by parents and grandparents than children themselves, though children should like the seasonal illustrations and the playful exuberance of the boy.
Recommended for a present (especially if you haven't seen the child for a long time and can make a relevant haven't you grown??! comment) or to borrow from a library.
The review copy was sent to the Book bag by the publisher.
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