This book’s whimsically vibrant illustrations caught my eye because I love gardens, but its simple story goes a little deeper. It’s about a little girl who resiliently gets on with life in the wake of a military family separation, but as time passes the emotions do come. It’s not overly dramatic, it’s real, it’s so sweet, and it captures some of the beauty that comes from these experiences.
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My child and I know what it’s like to miss our family, and we loved this book!
– Spoiler Alert –
Some of the things I love about this book:
- The Illustrations–gorgeous!
- The Storyline — simply sweet
- The Metaphoric Element — I love the way the author took the simple concept of sowing sunflower seeds and used it as a metaphor for the military family. They have to move or members deploy for months but wherever they go (or the family stays) they leave behind something that grows, spreads, and becomes more beautiful.
I love this book for military children because you can remind them that even during trails and separations, they can live on and GROW. It’s a way to teach them that though they may be sad at times, they are strong, have hope, they can share experiences from a distance, and will look forward to reuniting and sharing experiences with their loved ones in person.
I also love this book as a way to teach all children about empathy. It’s really hard to relate to someone when you haven’t been there before, or to know what to say when they are going through something like a family separation. This children’s story, Lilla’s Sunflowers, doesn’t explicitly describe the depths of a military child’s experience, but it illustrates an experience. Lilla has seasons of joy, trials, changes, loneliness, and renewed hope just like the natural seasons Spring through Winter. I think deployments are like that for most. That’s why this story can be opportunity for a good conversation with children and teach them to think about how others might be feeling when mommy or daddy are away.
Personally, I throw myself completely into gardening (or any project I can) when I miss family. It’s so healthy and wonderful to have something like sunshine and beautiful flowers to look forward to each day. For another person, running is an outlet, or a kitchen remodel, a good book, a trip, and so forth. Each year I experience the pride and joy that comes with a good project; then sometimes I have lonely moments and it’s okay. That’s why I found this book to be a treasure!