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This one will wow you. At least it wowed me.
I consider it an urban fable. It takes a city we may know and exaggerates it, makes it grittier and citier and more desolate.
That setting, it makes people “as mean and hard and ugly as their city, and I was mean and hard and ugly too.” This book is told in the first person, a narrator who is honest and flawed and who changes.
The title comes from a promise the narrator makes to an old woman she’s robbing, that she’ll plant what’s in the bag she’s stealing. And she does. The bag is full of acorns. She plants them and that is just the beginning.
She plants them everywhere.
“I pushed aside the mean and hard and ugly,
and I planted, planted, planted.”
Eventually, there are trees. Birds. The city changes. The people change. Everything changes.
“Trees and flowers, fruits and vegetables, in parks and gardens,
on balconies and rooftops.”
And here, the artwork is magnificent, each spread totally new from the next. Each, an invention, a revelation. At first, muddy. Sad. Beautiful.
Tiny figures, large ones. Gray, gray, gray. Windows of buildings like thumbprints.
And then, color! Colored pencil drawings that are slightly raw and totally beautiful. Plants and birds and people intertwined.
Here’s Carlin talking about The Promise.
The narrator continues her work planting in cities far and wide. And then, when she confronts someone mean and hard like she was because of their setting, trying to steal her bag, she implores a promise. Just like hers.
Thanks to Walker Books for images!
This book immediately made me think of seed bombs, which are perfect for Earth Day and Month and Spring! And guys, seed bombs are much prettier than when they first came on the scene! Really, really pretty. But, the result is even better: plants growing in hard, vacant spaces that need some life and beauty and green things. Just like in The Promise.
These are ones I really liked on etsy.
Seed bombs by Paper Sprouts.
Pastel heart-shaped ones from Wild Bloomers.
Wildflower variety by Renaissance Botanical. They look like speckled eggs!
There are even seed bombs that look like a box of chocolates from Garden bonbons.
Rainbow too! By Love By Bean.
Black ones filled with herb seeds from Plantables and Paper.
And this is what they look like when they start to sprout! Via Pulp Art.
But, hey, you could also make your own no-nonsense seed bombs!
You may want to check out another Nicola Davies book I’ve featured: TINY CREATURES: THE WORLD OF MICROBES.