Children’s

Net­ta and Her Plant

Ellie B. Gell­man; Natas­cia Ugliano, illus.
  • Review
By – June 6, 2014

On Tu B’Shevat, Net­ta brings home a small seedling from her Israeli preschool. She learns to care for it with water, sun­light, and even music, and while the plant grows so does Net­ta. The fol­low­ing year on Tu B’Shevat, Ima and Abba buy Net­ta a big girl bed and she decides that her plant also needs a big­ger pot. As Net­ta and her plant con­tin­ue to grow, her fam­i­ly grows too. With the arrival of a baby sis­ter, the fam­i­ly moves to a new house. And when Net­ta is big enough to start kinder­garten, she tells her plant: You’ve grown so much, it’s time for you to go live by your­self… Tomor­row before I start my new school, Abba will help me plant you in a gar­den, where you can make new friends.” Net­ta brings her new friend Ilana to meet her plant and they return to the park on Tu B’Shevat for a pic­nic and par­ty, and of course to plant more trees. While there isn’t much of a plot to this slight, sweet sto­ry, the themes of grow­ing old­er, welcom­ing a sib­ling, mov­ing to a new home, start­ing a new school, and mak­ing new friends will res­onate with young read­ers. The charm­ing, detailed illus­tra­tions match the soft, gen­tle mood of the text. A brief expla­na­tion of Tu B’Shevat is append­ed along with a glos­sary of Hebrew words (abba, ima, morah, and sav­ta). Read­ers also learn that Netta’s name means plant, her sis­ter Avital’s name means dew, and her friend Ilana’s name means tree. A wel­come addi­tion to the hol­i­day bookshelf.

Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 3 – 8.

Rachel Kamin is the Direc­tor of the Joseph and Mae Gray Cul­tur­al & Learn­ing Cen­ter at North Sub­ur­ban Syn­a­gogue Beth El in High­land Park, Illi­nois. A past chair of the Syd­ney Tay­lor Book Award Com­mit­tee, Rachel is cur­rent­ly the co-edi­tor of Book Reviews for Chil­dren & Teens for the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries Newslet­ter. She holds a BA in his­to­ry from Grin­nell Col­lege and a master’s degree in library and infor­ma­tion sci­ence from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michigan.

Discussion Questions