Plot: A literal bad seed tells his tale of woe, and mostly mends his ways.
Child Enjoyment: 9/10 Bad seeds are funny.
Parent Enjoyment: 8/10 Clear and to the point, with no wasted words and bold, charming pictures. Also, bad seeds are funny.
Age Appropriate: The six-year-old feels a real kinship to the bad seed.
Pain Factor: Delightfully low. I die a little on the inside when my kid brings me excessively wordy picture books to read. You know the kind – full of adjectives, adverbs, and fussy dialogue attributions. Who needs that stuff when a book has pictures? No one, that’s who. What a picture book needs, at least where a little boy is concerned (or, at least, where my little boy is concerned) is action, humor, or a combination of action and humor. The only thing this book doesn’t have that my kid craves is bodily function humor but hey, no one’s perfect.
In my opinion, the book is well written. It utilizes clear, evocative language. The pictures are charming too. I’m a fan. The kid is also a fan. This is what we call a win win, people.
Story Assessment: A bad seed (a baaaaaaaad seed) recounts the litany of his bad acts, including such sins as not putting things away, failing to wash, and telling long jokes with no punch lines. (By this metric, my own child is the worst of bad seeds.) The bad seed explains how he came to be so bad – a sad story that involves falling from his sunflower and being packaged for consumption at a baseball game – before abruptly pivoting to his decision to try to be a better seed. No joke, the seed’s trauma is real. My only quibble with this book – and I almost never say this – is that I wish it was longer. If only our bad seed had a few extra pages to experience his epiphany, instead of abruptly announcing his reformation! Now that would be quality literature.
In summation: I would read this book again. And have. Five times in a row, just this afternoon.
You can buy The Bad Seed by Jory John and Pete Oswald on Amazon.
Note: I don’t get paid for any of this, which makes this an honest-to-goodness, real deal positive review. It would be swell if I did get paid, of course, but come on. Even my mother doesn’t read this blog.