When Tom is given a brown bulb, he says, 'That's not a daffodil! That's an onion.' A cheeky and satisfying story with playful repetition and build up of anticipation that will make little children request this story again and again.
Elizabeth Honey is a popular, award-winning author of poetry, picture books and novels. She grew up on a farm and left the country to study art. After many years illustrating other people's stories she began to write and illustrate her own. Her books are published in many countries around the world.
Elizabeth's picture books include Not a Nibble!, a CBC Picture Book of the Year, Princess Beatrice and the Rotten Robber, The Cherry Dress, and The Moon in the Man, a CBC Notable Book. She has written poetry books and novels, including Honey Sandwich, and 45 + 47 Stella Street and everything that happened.
Today we sat outside as a group under a big tree and we had a look at all the leaves on the ground. We talked about what happens when the seasons change and how it affects all the plants and trees, especially in Autumn. We also talked about all the different plants we can begin to plant so they will be ready in time for Spring, especially daffodils.
That’s not a Daffodil! is a beautiful book: so cleverly written and with lovely illustrations. The story tells the tale of a little boy called Tom and his neighbour, an old gardener and a very kind man. When the gardener shows Tom the bulb, Tom can’t believe such a pretty flower could grow from this. So Tom and the old gardener plant the bulb – “Let’s plant it and see” said the gardener. This story is about a very lovely old gardener, a very clever and fun little boy called Tom, a growing friendship and best of all a bulb! I really enjoyed reading this book. I recommend this story for children aged 3-6. The pages are full with colourful illustrations and images. Children will love the end result too. This story has encouraged the class to plant our own daffodils. So now we are waiting to see what Spring will bring.
Thank you for a great book. I read to my 3 kids at home first and they loved it ... we now are planting daffodils.
Claire Evans, Pre-prep class, Chancellor Park World of Learning, QLD
When Tom's neighbour gives him a brown bulb he can't believe it will flower. "That's not a daffodil!" says Tom. "Well," says the old gardener. "Let's plant it and see." So begins the charming tale of childhood wonder. Filled with the traditional children's themes of friendship, change, and the all-important imagination, children of all ages will be captivated by the story of a little boy waiting for his flower to bloom. As the plant grows, Tom’s imagination and curiosity peak and he sees a desert change into a green beak, a wet rocket, a street lamp and many more charming images.
I read this story my prep students as part of a lesson exploring their understanding of ‘change’ in relation to our integrated unit on concepts of sustainability. They were thoroughly engaged and delighted by the images that Tom saw within the change of the daffodil and eagerly expressed their interest in doing their own planting, which will be taking place later in our unit of work. This is a great stimulus for topics on change and sustainability, but also on topics about relationships and use of imagination.
Recommended for pre-prep and children in the early years of school.
Stefanie Galvin, Prep Teacher, Heidelberg Primary School, VIC
Thomas is not at all impressed when Mr Yilmaz, the Turkish gentleman from next door, delivers the fruits of his labours to Thomas’s home. When the boy finds what looks like an onion in a crumpled paper bag, he can’t believe it’s the daffodil Mr Yilmaz claims it to be. With the help of his neighbour, Thomas plants the bulb and watches to see what will happen. With each visit from the old man, and his delivery of various seasonal fruits and vegetables, Thomas looks at the pot to see what changes have occurred. Time after time, Tom declares, “That’s not a daffodil,” and instead describes what he can see. From a desert to a green beak, a hand with five flat fingers, Grandpa’s hairs in the wind, a wet rocket to a street light, Tom’s observations make Mr Yilmaz smile. Will the promise of the daffodil finally be fulfilled?
Honey has delivered a gentle, sweet and moving story about friendship, patience, imagination, growth and change. The somewhat naïve style of illustrations adds to the innocence of the child and the story line and could provide inspiration for children as they try to copy her illustrations. Muted tones in the colours chosen allow Tom’s clothing and the resulting daffodil to become focal points for the reader.
This would be a great picture book to use with kindergarten or junior primary children as they look at how friendships can develop as well as the obvious tracking of seasons and growth of plants. Themes of growth and sustainability for young children could well be explored using this title as a starting point.
Jo Schenkel, Pilgrim School, SA
Elizabeth Honey has written an interesting tale, incorporating scientific observations of the phases of a plant’s growth couched in language suitable for toddlers to 8 year olds and the everlasting patience only a grandfather figure can give. She begins her story with the gift of apples and a mysterious crumpled paper bag. I’m sure Mr Yilmaz is a retired teacher – he doesn’t lecture Tom, but offers suggestions to try and has the materials at hand to ensure success. I like the way Ms Honey hasn’t tried to hurry any process along, but has created in the fullness of time, a beautiful flower.
In keeping with reflecting today’s multicultural society we are introduced to Mr Yilmaz, Tom’s Turkish next door neighbour, who throughout the book educates Tom in scientific facts in easily digestible portions. The story is very realistic, with Tom’s interest span flowing hot and cold in proportion to the milestones of the daffodil’s creation. Mr Yilmaz quietly leads Tom back to the plant when his interest wanes by introducing a new element. He offers solutions to problems and consequences to actions in a calm and patient way. He never ridicules Tom’s visions of what HE sees happening, but adds to the imagination with a pertinent comment.
This story will be enjoyed at home and in prep and lower primary classes. The teacher in me couldn’t just read this story to a child – engaging though it may be. What a wonderful opportunity to grow your own daffodil too. But don’t just stop there. A diary could be undertaken with pictures for the toddlers and words added for older children. Thank you Elizabeth Honey for providing a building block for budding scientists.
Jenny Cousens, Hercules Road State School, QLD
Mr Yilmaz is a generous gardener who lives next door to Tom. He often arrives with gifts from his garden. When he gives Tom a daffodil bulb Tom says "That’s not a daffodil, that’s an onion." So the two of them plant and care for the bulb and through the months which are marked by the different vegetables offered by Mr Yilmaz and the beautifully muted illustrations they care for and observe the growth of the daffodil.
Elizabeth Honey presents a picture book that effortlessly communicates the relationship between older man and boy, the passing seasons, the cycle of life and the curiosity of a five year old. The incidental details of family life including pets and friends are amusingly depicted as the context of the story. The language used to describe the daffodil during its growth is evocative and at times laugh out loud. This book would be great to share with any child up to the age of 7 or 8 years. In the school context it could be used to talk about seasons particularly winter and spring. It could also be used to talk about life cycles when life arises from something that looks dead. It could be used to examine simile for older students. A perfect follow up activity would be to plant a daffodil and watch its growth and compare it to the similes used by Honey with students being given the opportunity to create their own. This book is highly recommended.
Susan O’Malley, St Paul’s AGS, VIC
Elizabeth Honey is one of my favourite writers for children. Her poems display a clever and entertaining way with words, and her novels demonstrate her ability to create character and write convincing dialogue. In this picture book for young children the text is economical, allowing the illustrations to contribute to the simple story of growing a daffodil. Young Tom’s elderly neighbour, Mr Yilmaz, brings him a daffodil bulb, and helps him to plant and tend it. “That’s not a daffodil”, is Tom’s catchcry, and he thinks of creative ways to describe the bulb as it reaches each new stage of growth. The theme of planting and growth will easily lend itself to classroom topics such as plants and seasons. The story also has a multicultural aspect, centred around Tom’s friendship with his Turkish neighbour, Mr Yilmaz. The illustrations add colour and appeal. I recommend this delightful book for children ages 2 – 7.
Classroom applications may include:
• Science: what do plants need to grow? Study of bulbs. Seasons.
• SOSE: Find out about the country Turkey, and their alphabet. Find out what countries the people in your neighbourhood come from.
• English: speech marks and dialogue, questions marks, descriptions
• Maths: sequencing, colour
Marie Miegel, The Glennie School – Junior Years, Toowoomba, QLD
Tom, a mischievous young boy is handed a brown paper bag by his European neighbour. Mr Yilmaz is a warm and friendly gentleman who loves to garden and willingly shares his produce with the neighbourhood. In the paper bag is a very dried up looking bulb but to Tom’s surprise Mr Yilmaz announces that it is a daffodil. “That’s not a daffodil,” Tom says. “That’s an onion.” Mr Yilmaz shows Tom how to plant the bulb and then throughout the story with the passing of the seasons Tom watches the changes that take place in the big red terracotta pot. Many times he repeats,"that’s not a daffodil" and describes what he sees poking out of the dirt until one day he runs to get Mr Yilmaz to show him the beautiful daffodil. No one is more surprised that Tom that a daffodil is actually growing in his pot.
This is a lovely story for the early-years class. It highlights the friendship between an old man, from a very different cultural background and his young neighbour. He teaches the boy a new skill and encourages him to persevere even when the plant is knocked out of its pot. This story could be used in a unit on plants and their lifecycles, seasons and change and even some aspects of multiculturalism.
Elizabeth Honey has used crayons to draw her very large but simple illustrations that culminate in a big yellow daffodil which would be easy to copy by the children.
Heazle Shore, QLD
What a beautiful story, written and illustrated by Elizabeth Honey. A simple tale of an avid gardener, Mr Yilmaz (Tom’s neighbour) and a young green thumb Tom. This story begins with Mr Yilmaz kindly giving Tom a brown crumpled bag with what appears to be an onion. But as Mr Yilmaz points out, it’s a daffodil. Tom is not so sure and can’t believe this until he can see proof for himself. And so the journey begins with a bulb planted, watered, receiving sunlight and watched until eventually the plant grows and gets bigger each time Mr Yilmaz visits Tom. Tom can’t believe his eyes as the plant changes from a green beak, to a hand with five flat fingers, to grandpa’s hair in the wind…etc. Until eventually the plant is full grown and turns into a beautiful trumpet of gold.
My prep children were thrilled with this story. It has encouraged them to try planting flowers and vegetables at home. As we’ve been exploring Minibeasts they wanted to know what bugs could be found in flower pots and the garden. So, this led to a great discussion about nature. How delightful to witness the world through the eyes of a child, charming and heart warming. Highly recommended for children 5-6 years.
Rhiannon Neate, Don Bosco Primary School, Narre Warren, VIC
That’s Not a Daffodil!, written and illustrated by Elizabeth Honey is a beautiful story of the growth of not only a spring bulb but also of a special friendship. When Tom’s neighbour, Mr Yilmaz brings him a daffodil bulb in a paper bag, Tom declares, "That’s not a daffodil. That’s an onion." As the story of the growth of the daffodil unfolds, the reader (or listener) is able to gain an understanding of how the child, Tom, sees the bulb’s growth. Through a child’s eyes and a child’s imagination, the reader (or listener) will enjoy each step of the process. When the golden daffodil finally flowers, it is Tom who revels in the surprise and confirms that yes, it is a daffodil. The endpapers invite the reader into the world of a child’s imagination and lead into Elizabeth Honey’s beautiful illustrations. Each page shows Tom and Mr Yilmaz and the growing daffodil set against a variety of washed backgrounds. Each illustration highlights the interaction between the two friends and Tom’s speculation about what the plant resembles at each stage of its growth.
This beautiful book would be a special one to share with a child at any time but would be a really valuable one to share at springtime. The enjoyment of planting some daffodil bulbs after reading it would be a memorable shared experience for a child. The combination of a curious boy, a neighbour who likes gardening, the growth of an interesting bulb as well as a friendship between young and old and you have a book that will be shared over and over with children aged 3 to 6 years.
Margaret Warner, Casual teacher/writer, NSW
Mr Yilmaz gives Tom a crumpled brown bag with a daffodil bulb in it. Following is a delightful story with Tom looking at the bulb growing from a child's view, seeing the daffodil in different ways through its stages of growth. “That's not a daffodil,” said Tom. “That’s an onion” on being shown the bulb for the first time. They plant the bulb and watch slowly as it grows. At every stage Tom nurtures the plant watching it develop – “That's not a daffodil – that’s a wet rocket” as they see the bud. “That's a street light,” with a flower formed, but not yet open. Tom arrives home from a weekend at his Grandma’s and dashes off to find Mr Yilmaz – “how’s the daffodil?” he asks. Tom grabs his arm and they run to see the daffodil blooming “but it’s also a trumpet of gold!” says Tom.
This would be a wonderful addition to any kindergarten or school classroom or school library where there is a garden. It can be used in sustainability lessons for older students and in learning about growing plants and vegetables and seasons for younger students. It is also a fabulous story of perseverance and patience and a special relationship between an elderly neighbour and a young boy.
Kimberley Atkinson, Robertson Road School, NZ
This is a charming book that not only teaches children about how a daffodil grows from a bulb, but highlights the growing friendship between young Tom and his next door neighbour Mr Yilmaz. When Mr Yilmaz, who must surely be everyone’s idea of an ideal neighbour, always bringing in supplies of fresh fruit and vegetables from his garden, arrives with a bulb and tells Tom "It’s a daffodil," Tom responds by declaring "that’s an onion." Mr Yilmaz suggests they plant it and see. Together they plant the bulb in a pot and over time watch the changes that occur, as they care for the plant. It also shows a child’s imagination at work and his way of looking at the world. Tom compares the first sprouting of the daffodil to "a green beak," then later as it grows to "a hand with five flat fingers" and later still, to "grandpa’s hairs in the wind." His friend Mr Yilmaz encourages Tom’s imagination. Like all good books, a crisis happens. However even this cannot stop the growth of this plant and only serves to strengthen the relationship between Tom and his neighbour.
This is a story that highlights generosity, imagination, friendship and careful concern. The gently colourful illustrations add to the text. The last couple of pages are simply a delight.
This book could be used in schools to deal with topics about nature and growing plants, friendship, relationships between differing ages and breaking down barriers between people of different nationalities. A must for every school library or home.
Dale Harcombe, NSW