New York City
March 2003

Review of A Place to Grow
by Kent Kleiman

Questions of identity, growing up and finding one’s place in the world are the central issues in the deceptively simple new children’s book A Place to Grow, by Stephanie Bloom and illustrated by Kelly Murphy.

A Place to Grow tells the story of a young seed’s journey through the world trying to find just the right place to set its roots. On its way, carried by a watchful wind, the seed travels through forests, gardens, city parks, and fields while trying to find its home. Now this might seem like a garden variety children’s story of growing up. But the manner in which the story is presented, with imaginative artwork, humorous, at times introspective characters, and even a spiritual undercurrent, makes this a notable addition to a school or public library as well as for a bedtime story.

Particularly impressive is the author’s ability to develop an interesting character in the form of a seed. My expectation upon hearing of the book was to ask, “How do you create a dynamic seed?” Yet Ms. Bloom has created a very sympathetic, expressive and hopeful little fellow who engages the reader through to the last page. In part, the success comes with the seed being quite an actor, due to the illustrator’s brush. One can truly feel the character’s sense of despair and desire to give up the search. The strength of the character also comes from interacting with a variety of colorful creatures and situations that impart lessons of hard work, patience, possessiveness, and hope.

A notable point is the character of the wind that runs throughout the story. It is a guiding force and a source of comfort to the young seed in its search for a home. It is a fascinating implied spiritual element to a non-religious children’s book.

Overall, A Place to Grow is highly readable and wonderfully illustrated. I would strongly recommend it to school librarians as well as parents in search of the next children’s book for bedtime.#

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