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.
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.
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:
And there are oh so many lovely flower activities we’ve seen elsewhere we’d like to try, such as….
What books are your favourite books for illustrations of flowers and vegetables?