The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

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The Boy Who Grew Flowers Review by Tammy Walker

By Jen Wojtowicz
Illustrated by Steve Adams
Barefoot Books
2067 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02140

Your family will automatically be drawn to the beautiful, rich artwork in this enchanting picture book. This debut work by Jen Wojtowicz, inspired by her brother who has autism, tells the story of young Rink Bowagon whose family is a "hotbed of strange and exotic talents." Rink's Uncle Dud tames rattlesnakes; his cousins and siblings are shape-shifters; and Rink himself sprouts beautiful, sweet-smelling flowers every full moon. Because of his odd family and shy disposition, Rink is ignored by his classmates until Angelina Quiz comes along. This compassionate little girl concerns herself with Rink's lack of companionship and misses him when he is not at school for several days. Their friendship grows, and they discover that they share a unique gift--they both sprout flowers!

This enchanting work expresses the beauty of loving the outcast and unpopular, and it shows that being different may truly be an asset. The "magical" element is a delight to my family and reminds us of books by Chris Van Allsburg (The Polar Express and Jumanji), though the allusion to shape-shifters and the other mystical elements may not appeal to some families. Books that lead to discussions of character are of great value in our homeschool. Your children will be encouraged to look beyond themselves and care for those who are different.

Product review by Tammy Walker, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2008