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The Story of the Root Children
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The Story of the Root Children

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  762 ratings  ·  80 reviews
This is a classic story of the changing seasons. The root children spend the winter asleep. When spring comes, they wake, sew themselves new gowns, and clean and paint the beetles and bugs. All summer they play in fields, ponds and meadows before returning in the autumn to Mother Earth, who welcomes them home and puts them to bed once more.

Also available in a mini version
Hardcover, 24 pages
Published June 15th 1990 by Floris Books (first published 1906)
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4.23  · 
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 ·  762 ratings  ·  80 reviews

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Apr 30, 2011 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: anyone who loves Sibylle von Olfers' art
Sibylle von Olfers' Etwas von den Wurzelkindern is likely my very favourite German language picture book (I would even place it among my favourite picture books of all time). I loved this book when my grandmother first read it to me when I was a toddler, and I still love both the text (the original German text) and the luminous "Jugendstil" illustrations with all of my heart and soul (a wonderful homage to spring, to rebirth, to joy, and to the loving care that Mother Earth gives to all). For a ...more
Dec 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who loves Sibylle von Olfers, anyone who loves Jugendstil illustrations
After being rather disappointed with the text (the translation, or rather the so-called translation) of The Story of the Root-Children, I am glad to have been quite pleasantly surprised with and by both the text and the quilted illustrations of Mother Earth and Her Children: A Quilted Fairy Tale. I have to admit that while the original illustrations by Sibylle von Olfers will always remain a personal favourite, I was and continue to be wowed and impressed by Sieglinde Schoen-Smith's quiltwork an ...more
Sibylle wrote this in East Prussia in 1906. It was popular back then and sold all over the world. This is a Library of Congress book that our library didn’t have. I wish I could read it to the niece as I think she would appreciate its art.

It’s about Mother Earth and her children painting bugs & flowers to get ready for spring. Then, they bring all these growing things to the earth in Spring where they flourish. The children have nice clothes on too. They make the Earth beautiful before it’s
Sibylle von Olfers' Etwas von den Wurzelkindern is one of my all-time favourite picture books. I loved this book as a child (and have fond memories of both of my grandmothers reading it to me), and I still love both the simple, poetic text and the luminous "Jugendstil" illustrations. Sibylle von Olfers' masterpiece represents a glowing, loving homage to spring, youth, rebirth, joy, and the loving care Mother Earth gives to all. For a picture book originally published in 1906, this (in my humble ...more
Nov 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Updated review: For some reason, GoodReads placed my review of "Story of the Root-Children" (the original with illustrations by von Olfers) under the newly published book "Mother Earth and Her Children" BASED on von Olfers' original. I have now read the "new" book and, while I found the quilt to be an absolute marvel (wow! no wonder the quilter won so many awards for her work!) I felt that it lacked the charm of the original illustrations and would probably only give it three stars at most.

The b
The Story of the Root Children, with the original artwork of Sibylle von Olfers.

My first exposure to this classic German children's book was through Jack Zipes' poetic translation, Mother Earth and Her Children , with quilted illustrations done by Sieglinde Schoen-Smith, in the style of Sibylle von Olfers. I have since discovered that there are two other English-language adaptations available: Audrey Wood's When The Root Children Wake Up , with illustrations done by Ned Bittinger, and Helen De
Lisa Vegan
I read this version, illustrated by Sieglinde Schoen Smith, in the form of a quilt that she made. The original book appears to have an edition illustrated by the author. This edition is translated by Jack Zipes and from what I’ve read, it’s also not the full original text that Sibylle von Olfers wrote over a century ago. I am curious about the other edition.

The quilt is lovely, especially the last frame that shows the entire pattern. I do love quilts and this has such a detailed pattern. The boo
Mother Earth and Her Children, illustrated by Sieglinde Schoen-Smith.

Originally published in 1906 as Etwas von den Wurzelkindern (literally "Something About the Root Children"), this classic German picture-book has also been released in English, together with Sibylle Von Olfer's original artwork, as The Story of the Root Children . This edition, put out in 2007, offers a new translation (in verse) by celebrated fairy-tale scholar Jack Zipes, and new illustrations - based on von Olfers' own - in
Oct 20, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers Interested in Classic German Children's Books
Etwas von den Wurzelkindern, original German text and illustrations by Sibylle von Olfers.

After reading two very different English "translations" of this classic German picture-book, first published in 1906 - Jack Zipes' brief but poetic rendition, in Mother Earth and Her Children: A Quilted Fairy Tale , and an unnamed translator's extensive prose version, in Floris Books' The Story of the Root Children - I have been lucky enough (thank you, Gundula!) to obtain a copy of the original German e
Oct 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The incredible illustrations in this book are details of a modern quilt inspired by Sibylle von Olfers' classic storybook Mother Earth and Her Children. This book was inspired by the quilt which explores the changing of the seasons and lightly talks about the circle of life. When Mother Earth calls her children to prepare for spring, the earthly children come and stretch before they make themselves beautiful and ready for the season to change. They dust off the bumblebees, scrub the beetles, pai ...more
Jan 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Why is the art so much more attractive in the old editions! I've only read English translations of this book, so I was pleased to see Gundula's comments. Too bad I can't read German. I guess I have to wait for another translator to tackle this.

Joy in nature! The awakening of flowers and insects in the spring! And the little root children, busily helping everything along. A gentle story.
Jun 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a beautiful story! Written as a German tale in 1906, Sieglinde Schoen Smith retells it in the beauty of quilt.
The illustrations are of the actual quilt that Ms. Smith created from this precious tale of Mother Earth, her children, and the seasons of the year.
Mar 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Story of the Root Children.

What a wonderful little book! I found an online edition, complete with artwork, at Unfortunately it was in the original German so I had my husband translate it for me (over the phone while he was out of town for work--what a fabulous guy!). It's difficult to translate poetry, so I'm sure I missed out on some of the magic, but I picked up the gist of the story. The root children are little flowers and weeds whom Mother Earth awakens to prepare
Judy Lindow
This is a mini-version of Sibylle von Olfers' classic story, "The Root Children". The Story of the Root Children is Sibylle von Olfers' (1881-1916) best known work. Her blend of natural observation and use of simple design has led to comparisons with Kate Greenaway and Elsa Beskow.

All through the winter the Root Children are asleep underground, but when spring comes Mother Nature wakes them up. Then the Root Children are busy cleaning and painting the beetles and bugs. When summer comes they pla
Crystal Marcos
I enjoyed the illustrations in Mother Earth and Her Children: A Quilted Fairy Tale. I haven't read the original version and hope to someday if it is ever translated fully into English. I did not care much for the rhyming text in this version. It didn't flow very well, especially as a read aloud. I understand this was a shorter version than the original. I liked the additional informative text in the back of the book.
One of our springtime favourites!
Jul 19, 2012 rated it liked it
I love the illustrations.
Apr 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens
Beautiful illustrations.
Danielle Rocke
Mar 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children
I love this book. Beautiful illustrations and a wonderful story to introduce science in an imaginative way.
Such a beautiful little read that my daughter loves!
Jun 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Creative way to tell about spring.
An interesting look at the cycle of the three seasons and how the earth 'wakes up' from its' winter slumber.
Alice Ball
A condensed version of Sibylle von Olfers first book, The Story of the Root Children. The illustrations reflect the original through quilt and needlepoint. The text is shortened and rhymes. A wonderful journey through the seasons.
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
absolutely beautiful quilted pictures recreating the picture book she grew up with, the seasons laid out as an unending circle. the original text was written by a nun but there is no christian beliefs mention. at the end is a history of the author and the quilter
Francis S. Poesy
Aug 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-book
I'm a sucker for the old-time picture books. I'm not sure if its their sense of whimsy, their sincerity, or just the artwork (why not all three!), but I love them. I will never not give them 5 stars.
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sieglinde Schoen Smith's illustrations in fabric and quilting are elaborate and wonderful.
Alice Ball
Emergent spring story with von Olfers classic early 20th century illustrations.
Tracey the Bookworm
I love this author/illustrator and would own everything by her. This is a beautiful nature-themed tale for children.
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this charming tale of the root children with the purpose of describing the journey through the seasons of the year to children.
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My mother and her sisters enjoyed this story when they were young. My cousins and I were lucky enough to have been read the stories. And now our children are reading them! Wonderful nature tale of how the earth children enjoy the seasons. Best read in German, but the English version is alright. Illustrations were so beautiful.
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