If You Hold a Seed

written and illustrated by Elly MacKay

Running Press Kids, 2013
ISBN 978-0-7624-4721-3 (hc)
$19.95, 32 pp, ages 4 – 8

If You Hold a Seed is Canadian author and illustrator Elly MacKay’s first book. In spare and simple language it tells the story of a young boy who makes a wish as he plants a seed. As the seasons pass the seed grows into a sapling and then into a large tree. The final illustration shows the grown boy sitting in the tree with his own son. What sets this picture book apart from many others of this genre is the luminous quality of the illustrations. On her website Elly explains: “I make these images by inking yupo paper and cutting it into layers that I set up in a miniature theater, somewhat like a Victorian Paper Theatre. I play with the lights and filters to create atmosphere and then photograph the scenes.” To view this unique process you could visit her website at

Classroom Connections:

This book’s encouraging message is that with patience and the passage of time, the extraordinary is possible. It might be used to support young students to set goals and dreams for themselves. The book is also a natural link to the Science curriculum and would be a good read aloud preceding any kind of gardening project.

[Review by Brenda Boreham.]

Back to Top