Yesterday Leo announced that he wanted to start a new civilization. This didn't come as a complete surprise to me: he's studying ancient civilizations at school; and, more importantly, he thinks big. There's probably no better book for him to read as he embarks on this project than Weslandia by Paul Fleischman; illustrated by Kevin Hawkes (Candlewick, 1999). Actually, I've been waiting for just the right time to read it with him since I first read it myself. If you haven't, it's about Wesley's summer project: "[to] grow his own staple food crop--and found his own civilization!" (Maybe this is more of a common interest than I thought.) Wesley uses all the parts of a mysterious and magical plant that he grows in his suburban backyard to provide himself with food, clothing, shelter, and recreation; he invents a counting system based on the eight petals of the plant's flowers and even a 80-letter alphabet which he uses to record the history of his civilization's founding. His summer project is a spectacular success. And, once a social outcast, Wesley now has no shortage of friends.
Leo checked Weslandia out of the school library today and, after (finally!) reading it together, he started wondering what his civilization's staple crop might be. Wesley may have "found it thrilling to open his land to chance, to invite the new and unknown," but if we did that we'd probably end up with a lot of pokeweed. Maybe we could grow sunflowers in Leo-landia instead? This civilization is open to comments and advice.