How Does My Fruit Grow
By Gerda Muller
Illustrated by Gerda Muller
“Before a fruit can grow, there has to be a flower”
How Does My Fruit Grow tells the story of Sophie, a young girl who learns of different fruits growing in the south of France. The book follows Sophie’s summer stay and then a permanent move to the countryside, where the friends she encounters teach her how each fruit grows and what it is best for. Together, they go fruit and nut picking and make delicious dishes. In the book’s second part, Sophie and her classmates create a project that introduces fruits and nuts from different countries to teach their community about how fruit grows. This latter part of the book—focused on fruit harvested outside of southern France—offers a slideshow, showing individual students working on big posters. It is structurally different from the first part, where each double-page opening is a self-contained episode about certain kinds of fruit and can be read like a short story. In addition to Sophie’s story, in the first part, Muller provides fun facts about fruits, nuts, their flowers, and pollinators. The color-rich illustrations are detailed enough for young readers to make distinctions between apples, peaches, and many other fruits.
How Does My Fruit Grow invites students to dig into growing fruit and nuts. Where do our fruits and nuts come from? How do we grow healthy and abundant crops? With these two questions, Muller’s book helps open climate literacy discussions about local food and place-based knowledge. It shows how Sophie and her friends are intentional about growing and eating their fruit, and how certain kinds of fruit and nuts have been used throughout the ages: pomegranates becoming grenadine, olives becoming olive oil, and walnut husks used as pigment for natural paint. The book also helps explore themes of organic farming, organic gardens, permaculture, food sovereignty, and how healthy food systems require biodiversity. For example, in an episode on apples, pears, and plums, Michael teaches Sophie how to make homes for earwigs, little insects that eat greenflies, to protect fruit trees without using pesticides. Episodes on cherries, figs, and flowers, in turn, highlight the role of birds and pollinators, especially bees. The majority of the story is set outdoors, where Sophie and her friends go from field to orchard, exploring the diversity of fruits and nuts. This focus on the socio-cultural and community-building role of local food comes to the fore in all episodes when the story models sharing food as a token of friendship and communicates that food from the earth is for all to share. For example, when Sophie first moves into her new home in the south, her next-door neighbor brings her orange juice to drink as a welcome. This book communicates that young people are capable of growing their own fruit through curiosity and careful observation.
©2023 ClimateLit (Eh Soe Dwe)