written by Christelle Vallat; illustrated by Stephanie Augusseau
2014 (Peter Pauper Press)
First published in Belgium in 2012
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
In a small town, a long line forms every Sunday at the foot of an elderly lady named Celia. People come to her with their troubles. They whisper to her and she patiently listens. As a result of talking to Celia, people feel much better and reward her with a seed. A little boy named Julian is standing in this line one day when he realizes that he has dropped his seed. Julian slinks away with his sadness in tow. At the end of the day, Celia takes the donated seeds so she can put them to good use the next day. On Monday, she uses a few seeds to make giant balloons that bring smiles to people in the town square. Passing by the baker's shop, Celia tosses more seeds which frost all of the cupcakes and cookies. Other seeds place apples on a tree. During her travels, Celia finds a seed that she surmises belongs to a young child. Sure enough, on her way home that night, she finds Julian sitting sadly by himself. Celia shows him the seed she found and together they plant the seed in a pot. What follows is the blooming of a beautiful friendship.
As I teach children about thinking during their reading, one of the things I want them to focus on is any lessons that might be learned from reading the story. In Celia, we see an example of how being a good listener is a valuable asset. When we have someone that will listen to our troubles, that is a treasured friend. Another aspect of this book that would be interesting to explore with children is the friendship that develops between Celia and Julian. How is it like other friendships, such as Frog and Toad, that we find in literature? How is it like our own friendships? Celia is a sweet picture book that will lift your spirits and remind you of the value of having a friend that will listen.