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Bloom: The Surprising Seeds of Sorrel Fallowfield

Bloom

Published: 5 Mar 2020

Paperback / softback, 384 pages

Recommended for age 9+ and 11+

By Nicola Skinner

Illustrated by Flavia Sorrentino

Published by HarperCollins Publishers

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 Sorrel Fallowfield is so good at being good that teachers come to her when they need help remembering the school rules - and there are LOTS.

Luckily, Sorrel doesn't have any trouble following them, until the day she discovers a faded packet of Surprising Seeds buried under a tree in her backyard. Now she's hearing voices, seeing things, experiencing an almost unstoppable urge to plant the Seeds in some very unusual places... and completely failing to win her school's competition to find The Most Obedient Child of the School.

And all that's before flowers start growing out of her head...

Tagged community and environment

Nicola Skinner is a writer of originality and wit. Her latest book, Starboard' is inspired by Brunel's great ship the SS Great Britain,

Reviewed by Literacy for Pleasure

Bloom : The Surprising Seeds of Sorrel Fallowfield is a medium-length novel about the exploits of two eleven-year-old girls in possession of a packet of magic seeds which prove disastrous for their village community.

Bloom is Nicola Skinner’s debut children’s book and she has clearly written it with the aim of entertaining her likely (girl) readership. In short, she has written it for laughs. It has a zany plot, an array of stereotypical characters (a snooty Head of Year girl and her sycophantic sidekick, a repressive headmaster, a sweet but absent-minded botany teacher, a malevolent spirit from the past), and an ending where everything is suddenly neatly tied up thanks to the timely and not so surprising intervention of the supernatural. What gave me a bit of a jolt, though, was the irony of the fact that the plot hinges on a mysterious and crazy infection which originates from the seeds and spreads like wildfire through the village. Is Nicola Skinner able to see into the future? She even mentions ‘lockdown’ at one point. But, and here is the difference, although ‘Scalp Sprout’ is there to stay in her story, it does, of course, bring about good transformations in the community, and all is well in the future. But you do wonder quite how it will go down in these current circumstances.

She seems to have used this contagion story to give out a rather unconvincing message about defying authority and protecting the environment, but mostly she has written it to amuse her readers. Maybe it will succeed in doing that, and so it would be fine in a Key Stage 2 classroom library. However, I think Bloom belongs to the sugar-rush school of writing for children, okay while it lasts but very unlikely to have a long- term impact.

 

Phil Ferguson and Ross Young are teachers who write under the name of Literacy for Pleasure and help curate the Twitter group #WritingRocks.
They have a long-standing interest in children's literature and in the quality of the class library.

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