Okay, so Florette by Anna Walker was listed on so many “Best of 2018” lists that I decided I needed to check it out myself… We’re now on our 3rd and final renewal of Florette from our local library, and this book will definitely go on our wish list for books we’d love to own. (I try to put books to buy into an Amazon wish list instead of directly into my Amazon cart… I like to think this helps me purchase fewer books and better utilize our public library, but the jury is still out!). But I digress…
You are going to want to take a look at Florette! Written and illustrated by Walker, an actual shop window that she saw in Paris while vacationing with her family inspired this story. This book tells the story of Mae, whose family moved from somewhere lush and green to a very concrete (albeit charming, in my opinion) big city. All Mae wanted to do when she moved was bring her garden with her, but alas, there was no room for a new garden.
A story of learning to love where you live, of resourcefulness and initiative, and of celebrating and preserving nature, Florette is one you will definitely want to share with your children! While the text is simple enough to keep small children engaged, the writing is still beautiful, and the word choice and sentence structures allow readers to build genuine connection with Mae’s feelings.
Additionally, Walker’s watercolor illustrations are not only gorgeous, but are also filled with the emotions that Mae herself is feeling. The endpapers are green and abundant, reflective of the kind of nature for which Mae longs so deeply, but throughout the rest of the book, the illustrations are muted, grey and beige. Until, that is, Mae stumbles upon the windowfront to the store called Florette, a shop that changes the way Mae views her new life in her new city. A store that allows Mae to see how she can take charge of her surroundings and learn to feel at home in her new home.
Side note– I didn’t look up the word “florette” before reading the book. I actually assumed it was the girl’s name. It’s not. After reading it, I assumed “florette” meant either “florist” or “forest.” It doesn’t. A few readings later, I decided to find the actual translation of the word, so I looked it up (online, of course) and asked a friend fluent in French… “Florette,” for anyone else who is curious, simply means “little flower.” “Little Flower” is a perfect title to this book, but you’d have to read it yourself to see why.
Though the text was within reach of my 3-year-old’s comprehension and attention, she had a harder time with the muted illustrations in much of the book. In fact, she even declared at one point that she didn’t like this book (something she never says….), and then we turned the page. As luck would have it, the next page was the spread where Mae stumbles upon Florette… And Walker had my youngest back in the palm of her hand for the rest of the book. My 5.5-year-old loved the whole thing. Publishers recommend Florette for 4-8-year-olds, if that helps.
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