I am the Seed That Grew the Tree

I am the Seed That Grew the Tree

I am the Seed That Grew the Tree By Kate Wilson, Publisher, Nosy Crow

20 August 2018

For my seventh birthday, my parents gave me a book containing — like this one — hundreds of poems. It was a small, fat book without pictures. At first, I found it daunting: without pictures there was nothing to catch my eye, nothing to lead me into the book.

But one wet afternoon after school, I took it down and began to read. And that was it for me: I fell in love with poetry, with rhyme, with rhythm, with the way that poetry squashed big feelings, big thoughts, big things into tiny boxes of brilliance for the reader to unpack. It became my favourite book. I have it still. It is stuffed with little slips of paper that I used to mark the poems I liked best. As I grew older, those poems changed: a poem that baffled and bored me when I was seven revealed itself to me a couple of years later. I learned many of them by heart, and could recite them to you now.

When I was that seven-year-old child, I lived in a very small house with a very big garden on the outskirts of a city. The house was quite new, but the garden had old trees in it — a lilac, a holly and an apple tree so climbable it seemed as if it had grown itself with climbing children in mind. Those trees were alive with small birds and, one spring, there was a nest with blue eggs in it and, later, three shockingly naked baby birds with gaping beaks that seemed to split their heads in two. Hedgehogs sometimes snuffled across the grass at night, and, one wet spring, I saw two frogs. There were daisies and dandelions and buttercups, and a flower so astonishingly complex and beautiful that I thought it must be magical. I later learned it was called a columbine. I spent hours in that garden, looking and learning.

I grew up. I read more poems. I became a publisher and, in my thirty years of publishing, I have published many poetry books. But none has been as ambitious as this one. My idea was to make a book as rich as the one I loved so much, but to make something that was more beautiful and easier to find your way into. And I wanted, too, to make a book that helped you to pause and see the natural world around you.

I asked Fiona Waters to choose the poems and Frann Preston-Gannon to make the pictures, so that each page became an invitation to draw the reader in.

You could read the poems on your own or you could share them: you could have them read to you, or you could read them to someone else (because poems become particularly alive when they are read out loud).

You could read it from beginning to end quickly, or you could read a poem every day, every evening before you go to bed, and think about whether the things in the poem matched, or didn’t match, what you had seen that day. You could dip into it, looking at the poem that we’ve chosen for your birthday, for example, and close the book again so you could just think about that poem. You could just look at the pictures. You could leave it on your shelf until you are ready for it. You could stuff it full of slips of paper to mark your favourite poems. You could learn some of the poems in it by heart, just for you to remember, or to recite to someone you love on the morning of their birthday. You could keep it forever.

If you enjoy it half as much as we have enjoyed making it, then we will have done what we set out to do.

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