Sprout Branches Out
Sprout Branches Out
The wild woods were exactly what Sprout had in mind. “Now, this is more like it! I’ll get leaves on my chest in no time.”
Sprout the plant is unhappy with her spot on the porch of a cheerful looking house in a small town. She believes the location is directly responsible for her lack of growth, and she dreams about being in a more wild environment where she thinks she will truly thrive. Lo and behold, a brochure on nature is conveniently delivered right to the doorstep, and it is all the impetus Sprout needs to pack her bags and head out into the wilderness. However, nature is not all she’s imagined it to be - it’s often scary, overwhelming, and much too wet. Sprout returns home where, it turns out, her place on the porch is the perfect environment for her to grow.
This story is cute and cashes in on the pandemic trend of keeping house plants. However, the text is so full of plant puns - “you grow girl!”, “seed ya later!”, “I think I wet my plants” - it verges on obnoxious. Further, many of these puns, which rely on italics and colloquialisms, will go over the heads of young readers and may slow down the story as these puns often require explanation. The dialogue is awkward at times, and the moral, that home is best, encourages the safety of the status quo over new experiences and adventures.
The illustrations, featuring anthropomorphized plants, are very cute. The colour palette is primarily orange and green and is vibrant and fresh. Sprout’s face is drawn on her pot, and Innerebner does a great job of illustrating the character’s many emotions.
The back matter that tells readers that Sprout is a hydrangea provides useful context and encourages further reading on that specific plant to see how the illustration compares to the real thing. Other information includes instructions for starting your own sprout. However, these instructions are not specific enough, saying to find a seed in nature, the store, or your kitchen, but not giving any concrete examples. This lack of detail may prevent readers from actually doing this activity.
Sprout Branches Out is a cute story with cute illustrations, but it relies entirely too much on puns that are not suited for its readers.
Toby Cygman is a public librarian in Winnipeg, Manitoba.