The Land Has Yielded Its Produce: A Review of ‘An Orange in January’

 “The earth has yielded its harvest; God, our God, blesses us.”–Psalm 67:7

Reading Level:  Grades K – 1 [according to common core]

Grade   3.6   [according to Scholastic – reflects the                   grade  level at which a student reading  on grade                         could read the book independently]

Interest Level:  Grade K – 3

Review and Comments:

This is the story of the life cycle of an orange beginning with a blossom and ending with friends sharing the sweet fruit.  As all organisms go through stages of development this story shows how bees, rich soil, sunshine, and rain help the fruit mature into edible deliciousness.  Then the reader follows the processing of the fruit.  It is carefully picked, transported through different locations, and finally arrives at the grocery store.

A child then chooses the perfect orange in the selection available at the store with plans to eat it at school the next day.  The tender ending shows the boy sharing his fruit with other children so they can all share its juicy sweetness.

The large, colorful illustrations compliment the simple text. There is so much detail to look a child will definitely enjoy inspecting each page.  My personal favorite is the smiling child with the orange in his mouth.  Memories!

The imagery in this story is so thought provoking I couldn’t help but think about our life cycle as individuals. The oranges grow in spring light, and we grow in God’s light.  The orange blossoms fall away to grow into what it is meant to be and don’t we, because “God is always active” in our lives, develop and slowly change to become the people we are meant to be? (“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” – St. Catherin of Siena)  The earth feeds and the breeze refreshes the orchards. We grow enriched by God’s light and word, our families, and the breath of the Holy Spirit.  One day we are ready to go farther still as we imagine the possibilities of our lives. Then comes the moment when we are willing to share ourselves and that truly is the sweetness of a fruitful life.

Cody and Wyatt

Possible Issues:

There are no issues with this book.

Further Discussion:

Make the life cycle of an orange tree.

  • Cut a circle from poster board or use a paper plate. This will show the cycle is continuous.
  • Choose the major phases of the cycle (seeds*, blossom, fruit, rain and sun, picked fruit, transport trucks, grocery store). *Real seeds could be used.
  • OR divide the circle into for equal sections and label each one with the name of a season. (Spring – blossoms; Summer – green fruit; Fall – orange fruit; Winter – picking fruit)
  • Use arrows between each phase to show the gradual flow of growth.

Brainstorm other opportunities for sharing oneself and make a list. (at school, neighborhood, family).

  • Keep the list posted and check off items as they are performed.
  • Discuss how sharing makes one feel and improves the lives of others.

Catholic Resources:

 A Prayer in Planting Time:

Dear Lord, You are wonderful in everything you do. In marvelous ways You take the full, rich life of the plant and carefully fold it into tiny seeds. You form the seeds according to many different shapes and sizes and colors, so that man can know what kind of growth will come of them. When they are placed the earth they may look dry and dead, but when they are watered by the life-giving rain and nourished by the warm sun, they lose all their lifeless look and grow in an almost miraculous manner. By the power You gave them, they take the dead minerals of the earth and build up the nourishing, tasty foods that men need to sustain life.

This week, dear Lord, we will plant these [orange] seeds that You have given us. Bless them, and watch over them, and bring them to the full growth and rich harvest that You wish to bless us with.

But, should You not allow them to come to full harvest, we accept Your will humbly. We trust that You will nevertheless watch over us and make the seeds of grace that You have given us grow to flower and fruit in the full Christian life that You intend for us here and hereafter. Amen.

Blessing of the Harvest: 

“Almighty Lord God, You keep on giving abundance to men in the dew of heaven, and food out of the richness of the soil. We give thanks to Your most gracious majesty for the fruits of the field which we have gathered. We beg of You, in Your mercy, to bless our harvest, which we have received from Your generosity. Preserve it, and keep it from all harm. Grant, too, that all those whose desires You have filled with these good things may be happy in Your protection. May they praise Your mercies forever, and make use of the good things that do not last in such a way that they may not lose those goods that are everlasting, through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.”

CCC 291      “In the beginning was the Word… and the Word was God… all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.”129 The New Testament reveals that God created everything by the eternal Word, his beloved Son. In him “all things were created, in heaven and on earth… all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”130 The Church’s faith likewise confesses the creative action of the Holy Spirit, the “giver of life,” “the Creator Spirit” (“Veni, Creator Spiritus”), the “source of every good.”

CCC 299 – “Because creation comes forth from God’s goodness, it shares in that goodness — “And God saw that it was good… very good”—for God willed creation as a gift addressed to man, an inheritance destined for and entrusted to him.”

CCC 2415    The seventh commandment enjoins respect for the integrity of creation. Animals, like plants and inanimate beings, are by nature destined for the common good of past, present, and future humanity. Use of the mineral, vegetable, and animal resources of the universe cannot be divorced from respect for moral imperatives. Man’s dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation.