Jun 13, 2012

Plant a Kiss

 Plant a Kiss (CAN, JP, US, INT)

Written by: Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Illustrated by: Peter H Reynolds

Published by: HarperCollins

Published on: December 27, 2011

Japan is just about the safest place in the world. There are a lot of reasons for this, but to me the biggest one is that people are outside all day long. Old men and women are in their gardens, tilling and weeding and harvesting almost all year long. Because of the hodge podge of architectural planning in Japan, gardens and rice fields are everywhere, not just in the country. So when kids walk to school (and they all walk to school) there are people watching them. These kids stop and chat and it is very social, but it also instills a belief in the kids that people are always watching, which means a) someone will tell on them if they are bad and b) they have someone to go to if something bad happens. It's a sense of community that revolves around using every piece of available land for productive purposes, and to get by in a place with extremely high food prices.

This year we are raising corn and tomatoes and some herbs. The corn is grown in between the branches of our hedge so everyone on the street can watch them progress. We water and weed and watch and anticipate not only as a family, but as a neighbourhood. I don't think there is a kid on our block who hasn't had a turn with our Ikea watering can. Of course we return the favour and are just as involved with the neighbours' dahlias and sunflowers and especially the watermelons. It's lovely to see what the act of planting a tiny garden can do for a community when there are no fences to keep conversations away.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal (Chopsticks, The Wonder Book) and Peter H Reynolds (Ish, Judy Moody) capture the community spirit of gardening in Plant a Kiss. Little Miss doesn't plant food which nourishes the body, but a kiss, which nourishes the spirit and the community.

Rosenthal's rosey-cheeked protagonist just oozes good will. She is in perpertual motion, even when she is in anticipation mode. Little Miss is always looking forward, and her good mood is catchy. Grey, yellow, and pink doesn't sound like an inspiring cadre of colours but these work brilliantly here.  Plus, sparkles!

The best thing about this book is how easy and engaging it is to read. My son was able to read every word himself except "doubt"- but now he can! There is enough repetition that kids get used to the rhythm very quick and it is easy for them to differentiate between the intonation necessary for a statement to become a question (Planted a kiss? Planted a kiss.). This is a fabulous literacy lesson wrapped up so tight in the book that kids will have no idea how many ideas they are assimilating.

No wonder this is a bestselling picture book.

This is my contribution to June's I Can Read Carnival for New Readers, hosted this month by me!


  1. Sounds fantastic. Japan sounds like a really special place. Do you only rarely hear of crime?

    1. I think we probably hear of it as often as anywhere else, something has to sell newspapers. ;) But theft (other than bicycles!) and violent crime rates are very low compared to Canada & the US. Although those rates are going down too! We're doing something right lately!

  2. I need this book. Now I'll just have to remember to order it when I move. Don't need to pack another book right now.

  3. This sounds like a wonderful picture book. I'm adding it to my "must read" list. Thank you for your description of life in Japan and the community that is created by gardening!


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