Both cozy and conceptual – a difficult balance to strike – Time Is a Flower by Julie Morstad is an absolute delight.
This thought-provoking picture book helps young readers grasp the slippery notion of time and leads older readers to think critically about time’s visual depictions and textual articulations. Time Is a Flower elaborates on the most basic quantification of time: numbers on a clock and on a calendar. Morstad not only shows the passage of time through the inevitable passive actions that happen to someone or something – time is a flower blossoming and then drooping, a person aging, and a caterpillar metamorphosing – but also reminds readers of our agency. We can freeze it by taking a photograph and speed it up by dancing quickly. We can seize the moment.
Morstad wrote, illustrated, and co-designed Time Is a Flower. Many of the book’s pages begin with the phrase “Time is,” which helps maintain the pace. She uses spare but meaningful language, making it appropriate for a wide range of reading levels. The limited text is thoughtfully placed around and within the illustrations, heightening their impact. The stunning artwork is created with pencil, markers, coloured inks, and pastels, and it pops with great visual texture. The children’s expressions and postures convey relatable feelings like impatience at waiting for a tooth to fall out and the satisfaction of punching down bread dough.
Whereas many picture books end with bedtime, this one refreshingly ends with dinnertime. Readers could contemplate time endlessly, but dinner awaits.
Morstad’s book nestles in the heart and stretches the mind. It will stand the test of – you guessed it – time.