Flip, Float, Fly: Seeds on the Move (Review)
Updated: Nov 21
Interest Level: Ages 4 - 9
Author: JoAnn Early Macken
Illustrator: Pam Paparone
Publisher: Holiday House, 2008
Reading Level: Lexile 520L, Guided Reading Level N
Retail: $7.99, paperback
Summary: Lyrical text and softly detailed paintings take children on an exploration of the different ways that plants' seeds are dispersed.
As a gardening enthusiast and the spouse of an archaeobotanist, I was delighted to find this book a few years ago. Seeds may not be as noticeable as flowers, but they are all around us and easy for children to observe no matter where they live. I suspect that most people reading this post have experienced the delight of blowing seeds from a dandelion. This early introduction to science builds on this type of common nature experience.
Flip, Float, Fly goes through the main methods that plants use to spread seeds. Dandelions have seeds that are easily carried by the wind. Tumbleweeds scatter seeds when the plant breaks off at the ground and rolls along. Fig seeds are carried away by animals and released in their droppings. And so on.
The examples of plants in this book are somewhat regional, and may not be recognizable to children in all areas. Fortunately, it is a simple exercise to find nearby examples of virtually every method of seed dispersal, except possibly the coconut. Bats and birds carry saguaro cactus seeds across the landscape they same way they do fig seeds. Locust trees have pods like our local Palo Verde and Mesquite trees. Mexican Birds of Paradise have seed pods that dehisce like the Touch-me-not. (The term "dehisce" is not used in the text, but it is a wonderful word that refers to something bursting open, especially a seed). What examples would you choose from your neighborhood?
The concept of this book is simple and ingenious. I only wish the execution had been a little bit better. The text is full of words about motion, but the illustrations are a bit flat and static. The folk-art style of the images is comforting and pleasant, but the oddly-depicted human faces are a little distracting. They could have been left off without ill effect.
I recommend this book as a read-aloud for children as young as toddler/preschool and as a introduction to plants and seeds for early elementary age children in school. The endnotes are a great set up for a seed sorting activity or seed-germination experiment. You might also read the book before a nature walk and challenge children to find examples of different seed types.
This title may be purchased at Bookshop.org