Netta and Her Plant

16 Jan

Happy Tu B’Shevat! Today’s book review is for Netta and Her Plant, written by Ellie B. Gellman, illustrated by Natascia Ugliano, published by Kar-Ben Publishing. I purchased a copy of this book for my daughter’s library.

Netta and her Plant book cover

One Tu B’Shevat (the Jewish New Year for the trees), little Netta plants a seedling at her pre-school. She brings the plant home and cares for it with love and devotion. A seasons pass, Netta and her plant grow up together. This is a touching story about nurture and growth that celebrates the life cycle.

I’ve been working to add more books with Jewish themes to my daughter’s library, to keep her connected to her heritage. When I saw this book while searching on Amazon, I was immediately drawn to it. The cover art was beautiful and the story would give me opportunity to introduce my daughter to a new holiday.

The narrative prose is gentle and easy to read aloud. There’s a nice structure to the writing, too. The story is told in an episodic structure, with a repeated refrain of “The plant grew. Netta grew.” The structure helps to reinforce the idea of the seasonal cycle, growth, and renewal. Word choices are age appropriate and sentence structures are varied. I appreciate that it doesn’t talk down to children.

I fell in love with the illustrations. Initially I had some reservations about the style, but each time I read with my daughter, I find myself liking the pictures more and more. The images look to be drawn in pencil and then colored with heavily textured colored pencil. There are many beautifully rendered hand-drawn patterns on the clothing of various characters. The characters’ wide-set eyes give the impression of kindness and friendliness. Despite their simple facial features, Ugliano manages to convey great emotional depth on her characters.

This book is a wonderful choice for Jewish parents who want to help their children stay connected to their culture and traditions. It’s also a great choice for other parents who want to expose their children to other cultures. At the end of the book there is a small glossary of Hebrew words used in the text, as well as a short explanation of Tu B’Shevat. It’s also a great way to encourage children to value and feel a deeper connection to the natural world. I’m giving the book 5 stars. It’s a beautifully executed work that can be enjoyed by both parent and child.

You can find more information about this book on Goodreads.


14 Responses to “Netta and Her Plant”

  1. Sherrill S. Cannon January 22, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

    I found your book on the blog hop, and it looks and sounds very appealing. You should check Sarah Mazor’s books if you are interested in ones with positive messages and Jewish backgrounds as well… Your book should fit in to her website as well!

    • Destiny January 22, 2014 at 3:46 pm #

      Yeah, it was a beautiful book. And, even though Tu B’Shevat has passed for the year, my daughter still wants to read it. She connects to the little girl and the growing plant, which is nice.

      I hadn’t heard of Mazor Books, but I just clicked over to check it out. I’ll keep in it mind!

      Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Catherine @ Story Snug January 22, 2014 at 6:25 pm #

    This looks a beautiful book, I love the idea of the plant growing with the little girl πŸ™‚

    Hopping over from the kid lit bloghop πŸ™‚

    • Destiny January 22, 2014 at 6:38 pm #

      I loved the themes of growth. Plus, kids understand growing because that’s their life, so by using that parallel, it helps them to learn more about plants.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Renee @ Mother Daughter Book Reviews January 29, 2014 at 12:35 am #

    I must admit that I had never heard of Tu B’Shevat – so thank you for educating me about it! The book looks so lovely – thank you for sharing it in the Kid Lit Blog Hop and for hosting with us once again! πŸ™‚

    • Destiny January 29, 2014 at 1:32 am #

      It’s a relatively new holiday, and not a major one, so it’s not surprising you’d not heard of it. But it is lovely. I’m a big advocate of teaching kids to value nature, so it’s a holiday that fits well with my values and connects my daughter to her Jewish heritage.

  4. michelle @ booksmykidsread January 29, 2014 at 1:09 am #

    Awesome! I bought a new book for Tu B’Shevat this year called “Happy Birthday Trees” which is great, but I hadn’t heard of this one. PJ Library has it for their 4-5 year old group, so I’ll have to go out and buy it for next year. Thanks!

    • Destiny January 29, 2014 at 1:29 am #

      I also got “Thank You Trees” and “It’s Tu B’Shevat” which we also enjoyed quite a bit. My daughter is only 2 but I’ve found that she can enjoy books targeted to older kids as well. This title was just released in January, which is probably why you hadn’t heard about it yet. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. PragmaticMom January 31, 2014 at 11:51 am #

    I haven’t heard of this Jewish holiday and my kids love learning about Judaism even though they are not Jewish. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful book review with Multicultural Children’s Book Day! We are so happy to have you join us!

    • Destiny January 31, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

      I think it’s important for children to know about the holidays that people around them might celebrate. It helps broaden their understanding of others. And I think it shapes them into more open and compassionate individuals.

      I’ve made a point for the last decade to try to broaden my own literary experiences to include more voices from other cultures and traditions. So, continuing to do that with my daughter just made sense. I’m glad that you helped to organize this event–it’s a great resource.

  6. snacksformax February 3, 2014 at 12:20 am #

    My Max loves The Lorax, so I think we can safely say he’d approve of the theme πŸ™‚ Thanks for joining us at the KLBH once again! I’m extremely late in my hopping this time. Forgive me, and see you again in the Linky next week!

    • Destiny February 3, 2014 at 1:56 am #

      It’s cool. I’m pretty late in hopping this week, too. (I got about half my comments in early and now I have to go find where I got distracted.) But we can turn it around and think of it as making sure that the posts people are proud of continue to get unexpected comments. πŸ˜€

  7. (@Best4Future) February 4, 2014 at 6:22 am #

    I love the cover! The illustratons look so cute. Without your introduction, I will not know this book is for Jewish parents who want to help their children stay connected to their culture and traditions. Thank you for sharing it with us at Kid Lit Blog Hop!


  1. January Round-Up | Reading and Sharing - January 31, 2014

    […] Netta and Her Plant […]

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