Title: The Bad Seed
Author: Jory John
Illustrator: Pete Oswald
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: August 29,2017
Audience: 4-8 years old
Summary: The main character is a sunflower seed who is behaves badly but eventually decides he doesn’t want to be known as the bad seed anymore. He tries his best to become well-behaved. Even though he still makes mistakes, he keeps trying every day.
Literary elements at work in the story: Repetition occurs frequently to emphasize that the main character is a baaaaaad seed. Sentences are simple and would be great for an early reader to learn words. The concept of being good versus being bad are ones young children would easily understand. The illustrations come from the concept artist for films such as Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and Hotel Transylvania. Aesthetically, the book is pleasing to the eye and engaging. Multiple illustrations on some pages give visuals for each example of being bad or good, such as never washing hands, or holding doors for others.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? Because the main character is a seed and not characterized as a person or specific gender I think it is relatable for children of various genders and races. It is interesting that the seed seems to accept that its fate is to be bad because it was separated from its big family in the sunflower and packaged into a bag of seeds to be eaten. The seed escapes being eaten but is now alone and the story suggests that the seed became bad due to these circumstances. However, the seed comes to a big decision that it can overcome these circumstances, it doesn’t have to be a bad seed. It can be happy and take things one day at a time, striving to be good. At the end of the story the other seeds recognize the bad seed’s actions and affirm that it isn’t so bad anymore.
Theological Conversation Partners: I utilized this book with a group of mostly four to six-year-old children this summer and related it to the story of Saul’s conversion. We talked about Saul’s place in the world and his choices to be bad. We then explored how because of his conversion and interactions with the Risen Christ, Saul was changed to Paul and used all his life experiences moving forward to do good and serve the greater church. This could also be a great book to explore with children the idea of sinfulness and the ways we fall short of God’s glory, but each day is a new opportunity to strive to be more Christ like and do good faithfully.
Faith Talk Questions:
- Why do you think the seed feels like he has to be a “bad seed”? What actions does he take to be considered bad?
- How does the seed change its ways to become happy and good?
- Sometimes in our lives, we feel like we must be perfect. What does The Bad Seed teach us about such expectations?
- How can you be a good seed in your life this week?
Thanks to Rev. Loren Tate Mitchell, associaate pastor at Covenant Presbyterian Church, Roanoke, VA, for writing this week’s book review.
The Bad Seed by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.