by Judy Newman with Alexie Basil
This blog is no stranger to featuring all sorts of “bad seeds.” Such as…
David from No, David! by David Shannon…
Gilly Hopkins from The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson…
And Slappy from Goosebumps Most Wanted #2: Son of Slappy by R. L. Stine…
But are these characters really “bad” per se?
David is rebellious. Gilly is misunderstood. And Slappy usually has someone else pulling the strings, so to speak.
When it comes down to it, each of these characters may make a few “bad” choices, but they always have the ability to turn it around—and often make better choices by the end of the story.
(Okay, Slappy may be a bit of a literary anomaly. But he’s a creepy dummy; what do you expect?)
Which brings us to the Book of the Week: The Bad Seed written by Jory John and illustrated by Pete Oswald. It’s a funny and compelling picture book about a down-on-his-luck seed with a “bad” attitude.
“Oswald’s digital, watercolor-infused illustrations keep the focus exclusively on the titular bad seed, depicting the world around him hilariously reacting to his misbehavior and using close-ups—sometimes extreme ones—for comical effect.…A thoughtful, candid look at self-reflection.” —Kirkus Reviews
The book reminds us that, often, what looks like a “bad attitude” is really a tough shell built up from defending ourselves against hard times.
It’s a fantastic story to show kids who have had a few bad days of their own—and to remind us all—that even though doing “bad” can feel satisfying in the moment, doing good makes us happy in the long run.
My friend and colleague David Vozar interpreted “bad” a bit differently:
“After reading The Bad Seed, I was reminded of all the things that I thought I was pretty ‘bad’ at as a child. Luckily, this never seemed to get in the way.”
This week, we created some great resources to help you introduce The Bad Seed to your students:
• The Book Boys perform a hilarious reenactment of The Bad Seed in a book trailer.
• PreK teacher Zoe Kleinmann shares how her students relate to The Bad Seed in a teacher review video.
• Pete Oswald tells us about the creation process behind the book in an exclusive illustrator interview.
• Have students think about choices with a creative classroom activity inspired by one Zoe Kleinmann did with her class.
Do you and your students have any other favorite literary “bad seeds”? I’d love to hear from you—email me anytime at JNBlog@scholastic.com. And, in the meantime, I hope you enjoy The Bad Seed.
This Book Is Available from Scholastic Book Clubs