The Seed of Doubt


A bird flying overhead drops The Seed of Doubt. The boy plants and tends it. He has dreams of times ahead, of a world beyond the farm- ‘the meadows, brook, barn and hen-house’. Each night, after a day’s school and helping this father, he shares his aspirations of a world ‘where he could do anything and be anyone’. His father listens and says, ‘You know you can do anything, as long as you believe it’. 

So why does it seem that the rapid, lush growth of the seed into a magnificent tree stifles the boy? Why does his life, his hopes  cringe so as to become small and limited? What might change his thinking. Is it possible that the boy’s father might steer the boy toward looking up, ‘high into the sky’, that his vision and hopes are raised again?

What a beautiful message within such a meaningful picture book. What’s more Irena Brignull’s story is celebrated and amplified gloriously through Richard Jones’ variety of horizons, perspectives, and then the use of colour, pattern and collage. What assurance and empathy in this work!

Bookwagon recommends The Seed of Doubt for bedtime reading and then for school too. This is a necessary, wonderful picture book.

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The Seed of Doubt

Irena Brignull, illustrated by Richard Jones

(Walker Books)– hardback

The Seed of Doubt is dropped by a bird, ‘swift and sleek’, flying overhead. The boy thinks little of it, but plants it into the ground. Thereafter the tree grows quickly, strongly and bountifully.
Meanwhile, it seems that the boy’s ambitions and dreams are falling to dust. Once, he would share all his dreams with his father ‘of a world beyond‘ the farm. He longs for ‘a world where he could do anything and be anyone‘. Yet as the tree grows, so does the boy. While the tree seems to ‘touch the stars‘, the boy thinks of ‘what he [can] not do‘; his dreams are becoming ‘smaller’.
Rather like Jabari Jumps, this boy’s self doubts overwhelm him and stifle his hopes and actions. How is it possible that one boy, who helps his father on a farm every night after school, might rise to the top of the tree and reach for the moon?
It seems that Irena Brignull captures that knot in the throat, is able to make us hear the voice that convinces us that we are not good enough. Yet might a wise, loving father and the lure of the stars and moon recover the boy’s dreams? Richard Jones, whose Perdu, we love, offers diverting collage and printed pages of horizons that soar and beckon, skies of hope and wonder. Bookwagon loves and recommends The Seed of Doubt.


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