Interview with Dena Seiferling, THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS
Deep within a magical meadow, some lonely flowers receive a very special gift: a baby bumblebee who they name Beatrice. As she grows older, Beatrice learns the language of her floral family — messages of kindness and appreciation that she delivers between them. With each sweet word, the flowers bloom until the meadow becomes so big that Beatrice needs help delivering her messages and decides to set out in search of her own kind.
Max's Boat Pick:
The Language of Flowers
By Dena Seiferling
Publisher: Tundra Books (May 3, 2022))
Can you tell me the origin story behind The Language of Flowers?
DS: "The idea for the story was inspired by the memories I have of my maternal grandmother. She had a passion for growing things especially flowers. I loved being around her, just as I thought her flowers must because they flourished under her care. And so flowers, especially carnations, remind me of her. As I’ve grown up I’ve learned how my grandmother experienced very tough years as a young mother in rural Saskatchewan and I’ve always really admired how no matter how hard life was for her she always remained empathetic, humble and kind. I really respect that and I feel like this story pays homage to her spirit."
Do you remember what you loved reading to your kids at age 3? At age 5? "When my kids were around 3/4 years old, they LOVED (ironically), The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak. They were drawn to books that made us all laugh and be silly, and in this book I would get a bit embarrassed at the silliness of what I was uttering which made it even more hilarious for them. At this age I would read to them every night and we had many shared favourites like my friend Renata Liwska’s books… especially Dormouse Dreams, written by Karma Wilson, where a character hibernates as spring unfolds and comes to life around them. I remember Slinky Malinki, by Lynley Dodd, which follows a night in the life of an extremely trouble making cat, and old favourites of mine like anything Dr. Seuss and Go, Dog. Go!, by
P. D. Eastman being on constant rotation.
By age 5, my kids started getting into series books like Franklin where they saw the same group of characters experience many different situations and challenges…."
What would be on your list of 100 best picture books of all time? "I have many favourite picture books of all time and most are woven into my childhood memories: Little Fur Family, by Margaret Wise Brown and Garth Williams, is about a little fur character exploring the world outside its home as if for the first time (it even has a tiny fur jacket cover), and Bedtime for Frances by Russell Hoban and Garth Williams. Williams is one of my all time favourite illustrators and this book is precious. Lastly, Lizzy’s Lion, by Dennis Lee and Marie-Louise Gay, a rhyming story about a girl with a lion who eats a robber that breaks into her room one night. It’s a little dark but also charming and funny."
For those who love The Language of Flowers, can you recommend one or two other titles that you think they might also enjoy, and why? "Well... The Language of Flowers is quite fantastical but also sweet so another book that I think has these things would be Dream Animals written and illustrated by Emily Winfield Martin. In this little hard cover book, soft and adorable painted scenes take you through a dream state, traveling with different animals into different worlds."