A Packet of Seeds

  • A Packet of Seeds

March 30, 2004
Greenwillow Books
Ages 4-8

I knew Momma wouldn't ask Pa to leave this new land . . . but I wondered if I'd ever see her smile again."

Standing on the dry and dusty prairie, all Pa can see is the promise of the new land before him. All Momma can feel is the sorrow of leaving everything behind to live the life of a pioneer.

Annie thinks she knows what will make Momma happy again: a flower garden like the one back home. With Pa's help, Annie and her little brother Jim clear a patch of earth. And when Momma sees the plot of land ready for planting, she remembers something her sister gave her for the journey -- packets of seeds tied with a lavender ribbon.

Deborah Hopkinson's tender tribute to the brave women and children who traveled west on the prairies is accompanied by Bethanne Andersen's lush and evocative illustrations.


From School Library Journal
Grade 1-4-In this poignant account of a pioneer family's experiences, Annie relates how she and her family leave their home and journey west. While her father sees the promise of new land just waiting to be claimed, her mother feels the sorrow of saying good-bye to loved ones. On the morning of their departure, each of Momma's friends gives her a small white packet. Life is hard on the prairie, and when the woman gives birth to a baby girl in the spring, she is too sad to name her. With the help of her father and brother, Annie clears a patch of earth for a kitchen garden. Realizing Annie's intentions, her mother asks her to bring the packets, which contain seeds for daisies, larkspur, poppies, and hollyhocks. Momma rolls up her sleeves to begin planting, finally ready to make this place her home. Using clear language with a homespun flair, Hopkinson captures a child's perception of events. The illustrations, breathtakingly executed in gouache and oil paints, effectively depict the windswept prairie. Young readers will appreciate the work and adversities the pioneers faced and what they had to do to prepare the land for the nonnative trees, flowers, and plants that have survived long after. An author's note provides more information about women settlers and pioneer plants. A moving and enriching look at a slice of American history.-Marian Creamer, Children's Literature Alive, Portland, OR Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist
PreS-Gr. 2. Annie's father wants to move west, where people aren't "close as kernels on the cob." Friends bring good-bye gifts, and Annie's family sets off for weeks in their covered wagon. Life on the dusty prairie is difficult and lonely, and Annie's mother becomes more withdrawn, until finally, she rarely leaves her bed. Then Annie remembers her mother's words that "friends and flowers . . . gladden your heart." She convinces her father to help her plow a garden, and the ready brown plot cheers her mother, who brings out the good-bye gifts: flower seeds from home. Similar to Eve Bunting's Dandelions (1995), this book tells a quiet, moving story about the isolation and weariness of pioneer life, the pain of leaving loved ones, and the hope growing things can bring. Andersen's gouache-and-oil paintings beautifully capture the breathtaking expanse of the prairie in arcs of color and curved horizons that reinforce the message: "the same sweet earth " holds the old home as well as the new. Gillian Engberg Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved