Playing by the book

Reviews of kids' books and the crazy, fun stuff they inspire us to do

Fruit, veg and friendships across the divide

Posted on | July 10, 2010 | 8 Comments

With our local library closed I’ve become even more weak-willed when it comes to buying books. Recently a remaindered book shop opened within walking distance of us and I found myself (unsurprisingly) unable to walk past it… That said, I didn’t have high hopes about what I would find so it was an extra delight to come home with a little book that has since been read with relish quite a few times by M – The Flower Ball by Sigrid Laube, illustrated by Silke Leffler, translated by Philip Boehm.

Flowers on our patio

Carrot and Cauliflower have decided to attend the Flower Ball. Their fellow vegetables are shocked and think this is a bad idea – “You should stick with your own kind,” Lettuce scolded…”Proper vegetable never look past their own fence!” chirped the Radishes.” Once at the ball, the flowers are equally concerned to see the vegetable pair - “Raw vegetables – how dreadfully crude!”… “They are nothing but tedious soup-wallowers!” Marigold wilted with disgust”. But Cauliflower and Carrot hold themselves with poise and grace. wowing the flowers with their breezy cucumber tango and chilli pepper cha-cha-cha.. Soon all sorts of vegetable-flower friendships are formed as the communities on different sides of the garden realise that differences need not rule out friendship.

Our veg patch at the moment!

As keen gardeners this book was an instant hit for us because of its gorgeous, charming, funny and detailed illustrations. The flowers and vegetables are like updated, slightly off-beat Flower Fairies – the dresses, and especially the hats are fantastically fashioned out of petals. In fact, this book made me think of these adorable petal people from Elsa Mora.

I personally really enjoyed the text, full as it is with wordplay, for example when deriding the flowers the vegetables describe them as “those stuck-up vase stuffers!” and “Those fancy-pansies, those fluff-puffs, those ornamental dandies…“, whilst the carrot and cauliflower are later described as “Miserable groundlings, wretched undergrowth!“, but I suspect that for some the quite heavily laden language may seem a little overdone. Nevertheless, for a mere £1 I don’t think I could have found a lovelier story about acceptance and friendship. The only problem is, having found one good book I shall be tempted to return to the remaindered book shop…

Inspired by all the costumes in The Flower Ball M, J and I set about creating some petal-based artwork for our windows. First the girls had lots of fun collecting all sorts of flowers and petals from the garden. Then I gave each girl a large piece of contact paper (transparent sticky paper, the sort you might use to cover school books with). I peeled back only half of the backing paper.

Once they had covered their half of contact paper with petals I unpeeled the rest of the backing and folded the remaining half of the contact paper over the top. The girls then pressed down all over to seal in the flowers, and in doing so released lots of lovely scents from some of the flowers, especially the lavender.

Once our flower pockets were complete I taped them in our front window. Here’s the view from inside out:

And here’s what it looked like from the outside in:

Our petal suncatchers / stained glass / window art looked utterly gorgeous for about 15 minutes, but then what with the sun, the heat and the fresh flowers, the pockets soon became full of moisture and turned cloudy and milky looking so our artwork didn’t last long. Still, the process was lots of fun and for a brief time our windows looked great. Of course, we could perhaps repeat this with dried flowers (although you wouldn’t get the same olfactory experience when sealing the pockets).






The Flower Ball: ** (2 stars)

Here are some lovely flowery songs to enjoy:

  • You Are My Flower by Elizabeth Mitchell
  • Where Have All The Flowers Gone by Joan Baez (but you could go for versions by Peter, Paul and Mary, Dolly Parton, Marlene Dietrich and many others!)
  • London Pride by Noel Coward – and if you don’t know the flower London Pride, here’s some info about it
  • Wildwood Flower by the Carter Family
  • San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair) by Scott McKenzie

  • And there are oh so many lovely flower activities we’ve seen elsewhere we’d like to try, such as….

  • Making rosewater using this tutorial at Natural Kids
  • Using flowers as paintbrushes, like this from My Little Hen, or like this from angel bug baby
  • Making our own flower press, like this one from 5 Orange Potatoes
  • Playing with blossom, again from 5 Orange Potatoes
  • Creating dolls out of flowers, like this beautiful hollyhock person from Yours ’til Niagara Falls
  • Creating a skirt out of flowers and leaves from the garden, like this one from Quince and Quire
  • Printing our own fabric with flowers, like this from Spring Thinking


  • What books are your favourite books for illustrations of flowers and vegetables?






    I’m joining up today with What My Child is Reading, hosted at Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns – now I’m off to explore what other kids have been reading this week!
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    Comments

    8 Responses to “Fruit, veg and friendships across the divide”

    1. Andi
      July 10th, 2010 @ 10:42 pm

      My students have always enjoyed “How Are You Peeling? Foods with Moods.” by Saxton Freymann. The photographs of these veggies with personality are a lot of fun and certainly makes you look at your veggies in new ways.

    2. sunnyvale422
      July 11th, 2010 @ 4:13 am

      This sounds like a terrific book and thank you for joining WMCIR! As always, your artwork is really nice. I am adding this book to my Evernote and see if we can find it in the library.

    3. Zoe @ Playing by the book
      July 11th, 2010 @ 6:56 am

      Hi Andi,
      How Are You Peeling looks lots of fun. On a similar vein I like showing the girls the work of Carl Warner who creates landscapes out of vegetables – it’s fun trying to identify which part of the picture is made from which vegetable. Here’s a link to his work on the BBC:
      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_pictures/7186989.stm
      And here’s his home page:
      http://www.carlwarner.com/ – click on “stills” then the green square for “foodscapes” for lots more images.

      Hi Sunnyvale422,
      I was really pleased to be able to finally link up with WMCIR – I’ve wanted to for ages but because I don’t often post on a Saturday it has taken me a while. Still I’m glad I managed it this week – hopefully it won’t be so long till I do it again :-)

    4. magg, red ted art
      July 11th, 2010 @ 1:48 pm

      This activity looks so pretty and so colourful! How lovely! It also reminds me as how we once as naughty (!?!?) teenagers we snug into the school grounds and made a autumn leaf window with flour&water as paste. It looked stunnng and they never found out who it was (until now).

      :-)

      Maggy x
      PS thanks for the Zoom tip… saw it a couple of weeks past and was TRYING restrain myself from buying it!

    5. Zoe
      July 11th, 2010 @ 2:30 pm

      Hi Maggy,
      YOUR SECRET IS OUT!! No more school reunions for you ;-) Thanks for making me smile though – it’s a lovely story.

    6. Jen
      July 11th, 2010 @ 7:38 pm

      What beautiful flower windows! I like Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert and The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle.

      Jen
      Creative and Curious Kids!

      ps. We are still getting post cards in the mail! :) A couple of my blogging buddies decided to send us postcards from their own states, too! Thanks again for organizing the swap.

    7. Choxbox
      July 12th, 2010 @ 5:55 am

      Thats an awesome window idea!

    8. Zoe @ Playing by the book
      July 12th, 2010 @ 6:32 am

      Hi Jen,
      Yes, Planting a Rainbow is a beautiful book isn’t it – one of our favourites, and one we reviewed almost a year ago:
      http://www.playingbythebook.net/2009/08/03/colours/
      It’s great that you’re still getting postcards – thanks for letting me know :-)

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