if you hold a seed + dioramas



if-you-hold-a-seedIf You Hold a Seed by Elly MacKay.

A perfect book for winter. A reminder of what waiting brings. Of seasons and cycles. Of what happens after you first hold a seed. How it can grow.


“If you hold a seed,

And make a wish,

And plant it in the ground…” 




Each page is a diorama, or as MacKay would say, “a paper theater.” (See more of her behind the scenes process.)

A 3D cut-out figure and shapes. Landscape, shadows, even fog! Crinkly paper, billowy clouds, blades of grass, delicate butterflies. And always this boy, waiting, watching, growing up.




And the light! These images  positively glow!


You’re taken full circle through the seasons with the boy and the tree, and then, at last, the long ago wish that comes true.


(This book shares some kinship with And Then It’s Spring and Tap the Magic Tree, as well as with Kim Soyeon’s artwork in You Are Stardust.)


Thanks to Elly Mackay for the images! 

I received a review copy; opinions are my own.


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For more of Elly Mackay’s amazing work, check out her portfolio. Here are three of my favorites from there:




“Somewhere between.”




“Shadow Play 1 & 2”


How much fun are dioramas?!! 






Portrait Shadowboxes from One More Mushroom. Those are clay figures of this boy’s grandparents!



Those wallpaper combinations!!!




Artist Anastassia Elias‘s “Rouleaux” series of dioramas are tiny and intricate and housed in toilet paper rolls!

Zoo. Girafes.”




Shine a light in there and they come to life.





She’s got a book of her creations on blurb too.





Leave it to Mr. Printables, right?! DIY Peg Dolls Winter Wonderland.



Milk Carton Light House from Bloesem Kids. Just gorgeous.




I leave you with the Altoid tin diorama my husband made me for our 10th anniversary. Any guesses as to what that scene is from? Two hints: the cat and the crutch.



Need more? Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman.

My guy and I went to see the play on what has gone down in our history as the best, loveliest evening we’ve ever had together. Now immortalized beautifully in miniature in a mint tin.





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9 Responses to if you hold a seed + dioramas

  1. I love everything about this post! Those illustrations! Those dioramas!

    Now I have exceeded my exclamation point quota for the day…

  2. Wow! Loving this post! So many marvelous images! Thank you!

  3. Ronna Mandel says:

    Wow, Danielle, I simply adore the way you approach your coverage to picture books. And that toilet paper roll has just so intrigued me. I think I’ll never look at a “loo” roll the same way again!!

  4. Sara O'Leary says:

    Oh, I clearly need to find more time to keep up with your blog, Danielle. Was just recommending it to someone and realized how far behind I am! If I kept up/kept things in mind, then I wouldn’t be trying to tell you things you already know.
    Also, that Altoid tin gift is perfectly swoony!

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