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

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  430 ratings  ·  45 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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Average rating 4.28  · 
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 ·  430 ratings  ·  45 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
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 Hele
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 Germ
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.
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Such a wonderful tale.My kids loved the beautiful illustrations and the story.A lovely fairy tale for kids.
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
Apr 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens
Beautiful illustrations.
An interesting look at the cycle of the three seasons and how the earth 'wakes up' from its' winter slumber. ...more
One of our springtime favourites!
Jul 19, 2012 rated it liked it
I love the 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.
Jun 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Creative way to tell about spring.
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is pure sweetness. I want them all to come to my yard next spring. I adored every papge.
Alice Ball
Emergent spring story with von Olfers classic early 20th century illustrations.
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. ...more
Jul 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens

This is slightly strange and creepy, with the children living underground in the dark and having to make their own clothing. They're overseen by the elderly Mother Earth . It's a very simple twenty-four page children's picture book showing their outdoor activities during each season of the year. I love the illustrations but wish more colors had been used. My favorite image is below.

Oct 08, 2020 rated it it was ok
1001 Children's Books list
Age group: 3+
Their list: 45/1001
My list: 74/1001

Why they say you should read it? Appealing for its short verse and the colourful, nature like depictions of the world.

My kids thoughts? Although the artwork has that playful brown, green and yellow pallet, with splashes of bright colour, that many an early 1900’s picture book had when depicting nature, it’s nice artwork. The verse in concept is cute, a group of tiny children set to care for children, but just didn’t age w
Eleanor Scott
Jan 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This lovely book is great for young children who don't like conflict in their bedtime stories. (I have a child like that, so read this book often for many years.) The art is beautiful, and scientifically precise for all its sweetness.

Von Olfers was a eccentric young nun who wrote her children's books for her little sister, to whom she was close.

Originally published in German in 1906, The Root Children was translated into English in 199o. The language retains a vintage European flavor.
Ruth clarke
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: german-books
I loved reading this book, beautiful old fashioned German childrens classic.
Juli Anna
This will forever be a favorite for my tiny-nature-creature-loving heart.
Fräulein Bunny
Aug 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lovely picture book classic
Jan 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A sweet story of the coming of spring.
Jean James
Mar 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I owned this when I was a small child and just recently found a copy.
Brought a smile to my face remembering how I studied those pictures when I was a 6 year old.
Apr 05, 2021 rated it liked it
Although the drawings were great of this book, I found the story lacking. It didn't really go somewhere and was just average. Wished I liked it more then I did. ...more
Dec 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was just a book that we came across without looking for it while I am glad that I was able to give it a chance. The artwork is just gorgeous and the story is fun enough convey the reader into an underworld location as the world starts to waken up for Spring after its long nap.

The writing is very easy and simple to follow along while most kids will appreciate it. The story to keep it in short format is a bit of a jumper from one event to another instead of elaborating but it doesn't take a
Sep 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Preschoolers and up
Recommended to Allison by: 1001 CBYMRBYGU
Shelves: 1001-cbymrbygu
I love stories about mystical beings and the Root-children are such creatures. I believe a lot of children would love them too but they seem to have fallen a bit out of fashion these days with so much literature cemented in more realistic themes. I feel that the imagination is a most precious thing and that stories like this one feed the imagination in a way unmatched by realism.

The artistry in the illustrations of The Story of the Root-Children is magnificent. If I owned more than one copy of t
T Crockett
Apr 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: picture-books
I read this with a 5 yr old. The first few pages we were both full of curiosity and had all sorts of questions about the premise. Were they people? Fairies? Something new? Why were they underground? Did they like it there? Were there any boys?

Once spring arrives and the children emerge (the point when I hoped for some further explanation and my audience hoped for something to happen), the book becomes almost completely descriptive. It was disappointing, especially after such an intriguing start.
Mar 17, 2016 rated it liked it
“You must all go to sleep until I wake you up again in the springtime”

Charming pictures of the little Root Children whom Mother Earth wakens in the spring as it’s time to make new clothes in the colour of their flower, before cleaning and painting the ladybirds and bees. I can’t say a great deal happens – they dance and paddle in the stream before returning underground in the autumn, but it’s quite a sweet tale.
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