The Boy Who Grew Flowers, written by Jen Wojtowicz is one of my favorite picture books and a perfect read for back to school. It tackles the anxieties of being different and the power of acceptance.
The Boy is Rink Bowagon, a shy person whose classmates think is weird because he has odd family members, inlcuding snake tamers and “shape shifters”. A new girl, Angelina, comes to town and doesn’t understand why the other kids don’t talk to him. Just because he’s different and his family is different doesn’t mean he’s not worth knowing. Angelina is different herself, with one of her legs shorter than the other. Her family is a family of dancers so she feels left out as well. As they become friends, they discover that they are more similar than different.
Although I have read this book to my three-year-old, I believe older children will identify with the anxieties of fitting in at school and starting a new school. The illustrations by Steve Adams are very sophisticated and truly capture the emotion of the story. I should say that the first time I read this to my son I cried, actually wept, at Rink’s kind actions. I was 7 months pregnant, but I challenge you not to shed a tear.