7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #804: Featuring Antoinette Portis

h1 July 24th, 2022 by jules

“and the sun shines”
(Click spread to enlarge)


Antoinette Portis’s ebullient and sun-dappled A Seed Grows (Neal Porter Books, June 2022) is a thing of beauty. It captures the life cycle of a flower — in this case, a healthy, glowing sunflower. The entire text consists of one long sentence and then one final short one that brings everything full circle. The images — which feature visually rich colors, textures, and patterns — are bright and bold and will engage the young children, particularly the emerging readers, at whom this book is aimed.

Each spread features text on the left and an illustration on the right — until we reach the end where we see some double-page spreads. Portis rendered the illustrations with “various printmaking techniques, including gel printing, linocutting, potato stamping and printing with a celery stalk.” So when we read on the first spread ” a seed falls,” we see text on the verso in copious white space — the word “seed” rendered in a blue type rendered via a printmaking technique — and a small seed fall to the ground in the illustration on the recto. The page-turn reveals: “and settles into the soil.” We see the seed on the ground. The sun shines (pictured above), the rain falls, the seed sprouts, and so on — until a plant grows. And grows. Portis gives ample time and space for readers to see the plant push up and its leaves spread. A bud forms, and we are then treated to the glorious vertical gatefold spread pictured below: the sunflower, whose large head looks as if it could be the sun itself.

After the plant fills with seeds (by the way, these might be my favorite endpapers of the year, pages filled with seeds on an orange background, as if we’re staring right into a big, beautiful sunflower head), the birds grab the seeds that have fallen, fly to the tops of trees “where the sun shines” (again), and we start over: “And a seed falls.”

Backmatter includes diagrams about the life cycle of a sunflower plant, the parts of a sunflower, the parts of a sunflower seed, and what the seed needs to sprout. And a short bibliography (“More to explore”) is included.

These are spreads that, as the Publishers Weekly review puts it so well, “belie their quiet complexity.” See for yourself …


“and the plant grows”
(Click spread to enlarge)


“that blossoms into a flower”
(Click spread to enlarge)


“that drop to the ground and feed the birds”
(Click spread to enlarge)


(Click cover to enlarge)


A SEED GROWS. Text and illustrations copyright © 2022 by Antoinette Portis. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Neal Porter Books/Holiday House, New York.

* * * Jules’s Kicks * * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

1) Lauren Groff’s Matrix. Such good writing.

2) Again, Better Call Saul. Boy howdy, do they know how to visually craft a scene.

3) My Mother Made Me, Jason Reynolds’s new podcast.

4) The delicious mystery that is Iron & Wine’s “Passing Afternoon.”

5) Pie.

6) Sun and water with friends.

7) Sam Phillips posting a recording from her archives of singing only my second favorite song of hers EVER. (And it’s hard for me to narrow.) “I’m a lever pulled down. / I’m a flipped switch. / I’m a lever pulled down / from the fire in the air.”



What are YOUR kicks this week?

5 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #804: Featuring Antoinette Portis”

  1. Sunflowers are one of my favorites and these illustrations are so bright and cheerful and full of energy.

    Jules – hooray for pie, Sam sharing performances from the archives, and sun and water with friends.

    My kicks this week:
    1) Sunflowers on my dining table.
    2) Green shoots and leaves in my new container flower beds.
    3) Started ‘The Last Movie Stars’ about Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward and so far it’s really good.
    4) Listening to audiobooks in the car, the last one was a memoir by Betty White & just hearing her voice puts me in a good mood so I arrive at every destination happy.
    5) The new trailer for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever gave me chills and made me teary.
    6) Learning Quinta Brunson is a Marvel geek who loves Iron Man too:
    7) I also loved that shot and cannot wait for Ironheart.
    7.5) Dogsitting an adoptable foster dog named Tartar Sauce for a week while his foster mama is on vacation. Tar is a total sweetheart and it is very nice to have dog energy in the house again, while also being nice that it is short term.

    Have a great week Imps!

  2. Hi Imps and Antoinette! Say hello to the flowers and birds for me.

    Jules: Yay friends and treats and music!

    Rachel: Hi Tartar Sauce! Hi sunflowers!

    1) Prep
    2) Finished
    3) Research
    4) Learning
    5) Good challenge
    6) Steady
    7) Sure

  3. Rachel, I love that last kick, and Tartar Sauce is a great name. If you have sunflowers on your table this week, that means I was destined to write about this book.

    Little Willow, those are comforting final kicks.

    Have a good week, you two!

  4. Rachel, finally just watched that trailer. Goosebumps. And I had no idea Michaela Coel had been cast. Excellent.

  5. Little Willow – love all your kicks, but especially Finished, Steady and Sure.

    Jules – that trailer. Just wow. And truly stacked with a talented cast. Cannot wait.

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