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The Digger and the Flower by Jospeh Kuefler

This is a picture book with a serious theme about the conflict between man and nature brought about by industrialization. Digger, Crane, and Dozer work each day constructing roads, bridges, and buildings in the city. One day, Digger sees a beautiful blue flower growing out of the rubble. The flower moves something in Digger and every day, he visits the flower, providing it with water, shielding it from the wind, and even singing it a bedtime song. The flower grows, but soon the space is needed for more building. So Dozer unceremoniously cuts the flower down. Digger, of course, is sad at the loss of the flower. However, the flower has left behind seeds. Dozer gathers these and drives far past the city, into the countryside, where he plants the seeds. As with the flower, he tends to the seeds and they grow into beautiful blue flowers that look just like the one that was cut down.

Through his actions, Digger brings beauty to the world to offset the ugliness of urbanization. It is telling, though, that Digger has to leave the city and go far out in the country to allow the flowers to grow. All the scenes in the city are dominated by black, gray, and white. The beautiful blue flower is the only bit of color. Once Dozer goes to the country, a lovely green is introduced to the story. I think I would have liked the story better if the seeds could have been planted within the city, allowing nature and urban life to co-exist, but still it is a lesson to children that the environment matters, and the last page of the book shows more flowers in bloom, spreading towards the city, offering hope that the two can someday co-exist.

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