Penguin Problems by Jory John was one of our Top Ten Books of 2016. Again with The Bad Seed, wit is used as a tool to impart an important message, one of understanding, compassion, and not being too hard on yourself. It’s cleverly and clearly told. A delight to read. Kids enjoyed the repetition of “A bad seed — A baaaaaaaaaaad seed” and Pete Oswald’s animated illustrations.
Our protagonist, a very despicable sunflower seed, seems to take great pleasure in being mischievous, devious and rude. “How bad am I?” he says. “You really want to know?” He continues to list the many irreverent acts he’s known for, such as never putting things back where they belong, lying about pointless stuff, cutting in line, staring and glaring at everyone, and being noisy in the library. Because of these actions, he’s met with distain, gasps and uneasy looks. Many people stay away, because he’s such a baaaaaaaaaaad seed.
We learn that Sunflower Seed used to have a big family and a happy home in the middle of a grand sunflower, until the petals dropped. A sequence of terrible events followed, causing Sunflower Seed’s cheerful and positive demeanour to completely flip. The dismal, lonely life suited him — for a time. Sunflower Seed made a big decision, “I don’t want to be a bad seed anymore.” Although every now and then he slips back into his baaaaaaaaaaad ways, what’s important is that he’s trying, always trying, and believing in himself.