Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Things That Grow

Things That Grow

Libby Walden
Illustrator:  Becca Stadtlander 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 9
360 Degrees, 2016   ISBN: 978-1944530051


Many of us find change hard. We like things to stay the same because change can be unsettling and even confusing, but change is inevitable. Nothing stays the same, and that’s just how life is. In nature one of the ways in which change takes place is through growth. Rivers get wider and change direction, mountains rise up and erode, trees grow taller and wider, and animals grow up and then grow old.

Some of the processes take a long time, but others can happen in just weeks and months, and we get to witness them, which can be a real gift. We see seeds germinate, and watch as plants grow, flower, and produce fruit. We see kittens turn into cats, and chicks hatch from eggs. We watch in wonder as a tadpole grows legs, loses its tail and becomes a frog. Change can certainly be an amazing thing to see.

In this wonderful book the author shows us processes of change in the natural world and shows us how some of these processes work. She begins by looking at plants and trees and we see how a seed, which come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, germinates and grows into a tree or plant. We learn that trees, unlike most animals, keep on growing and we can tell how old they are by looking at their growth rings.

Instead of having spores or seeds, animals reproduce by producing eggs or live young. Eggs have hard shells, a jelly coating, or they can be wrapped in a rubbery shell case. Some animals invest in just one egg, which they guard faithfully, while others lay thousands of tiny eggs and hope for the best.

Of course, just like everywhere else, in the animal kingdom there species that break the rules. Most mammals give birth to live young, but a few species, including the platypus, lay eggs. Most fish lay eggs, but there are some sharks whose eggs hatch inside the mother who then gives birth to live babies!

After looking at the plant and animals kingdoms, the author goes on to look at the universe and at large scale processes of change that take place on our planet. These processes of growth and transformation take millions of years, and in many cases they keep on going. For example, the continents on Earth may seem static but in fact they are still moving, albeit very slowly.

This is a wonderful book to share with a child as it explores the natural world in a fresh and exciting way. Illustrations and diagrams compliment the text, and they offer readers further information in visual form.