The story is about a sunflower, Suzy, that blows into a perennial garden. Mr. Gardener considers anything that he has not planted, a weed. Therefore, he considers Suzy, a weed. Mr. Gardener does not know that Mrs. Gardener loves Suzy and how much joy she brings to her each day.
This story is about “welcoming” something or someone new or different. When something new is added or happens, it can add more love and joy. Too often it is felt that when something is added, especially when unplanned, it will take away from what we have. It is a story about inclusion and acceptance.
Sonja Lange Wendt is an award-winning author of the Cultivating Compassion in Children books series. Her books are intergenerational and address important and sometimes difficult topics with children on inclusion, acceptance, disabilities, bullying and aging. Serina and Seymour Seed kick off and end each story. Seymour and Serina are the seeds of compassion children have, but sometimes they need planting and nurturing to cultivate the best in them. Through increasing awareness, understanding and discussion, these books teach that using compassion in different situations shows kindness in the greatest way in this sometimes difficult to navigate world.
Sonja uses a variety of setting and characters from grandparents, little girl, little boy, and bugs to engage children in the stories. The settings all include nature and the outdoors. Each story ends with thought provoking questions to be asked by the adult and discussed with the child.
These books are generally fitting for children ages 4-8 but as C.S. Lewis states, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” Her books are brilliantly illustrated with vivid colors and scenery.
Suzy Sunflower started from a seed that blew into Mr. Gardener's perennial garden. He did not plan for her in his design. She didn't have a drip line but instead grew and thrived just from rainwater. But Mr. Gardener considered her a weed. How often in life do things happen that are not planned? What do we do when that happens? How do we respond? Are we able to accept and love what blows our way? Are we able to open our arms and welcome them into our garden?