My Garden by Kevin Henkes
A little girl helps her mother in her garden. It is a nice garden, but if the little girl could create her own garden, it would be very different! There would be no weeds. No plants would die. If you imagined the flowers different colors and patterns, they would change. Rabbits would not eat lettuce, instead they would be chocolate rabbits meant to be eaten. There would be lots of birds and butterflies, and unique things would suddenly grow. This beauty of a book will inspire children to dream their own gardens and perhaps plant a seashell to see what will happen.
With his gentle feel, Henkes has created a creative look at gardening that will have a permanent spot in everyone’s spring story pile. His art is done in ink and watercolors, offering a soft palette perfect for the story. The flights of fancy in the book are whimsical and wonderful, capturing a welcoming friendly invitation to explore a garden of dreams.
I can see this leading to a craft where children design their own imaginary gardens or write a story about what should be in their gardens. It is such a springboard for dreams and imagination! Appropriate for ages 2-5.
Reviewed from library copy.
Also reviewed by Brimful Curiosities.
Strega Nona’s Harvest by Tomie dePaola
Rejoice! A new Strega Nona book is here!
Every spring, Strega Nona plants her garden with seeds saved from the year before. She carefully keeps records of where things were planted previous years and never plants them in the same place. The garden is planted during a full moon, and is done perfectly with straight rows. Big Anthony chafes under these rules and Bambolona’s bossiness, but he does his best. Watching Strega Nona, he learns what her little bit of magic is to make the plants grow strong. Then he finds some forgotten seeds and decides to prove to everyone that he can do just as well himself. Needless to say, things grow out of hand and Big Anthony has to find a way to get himself out of the situation with funny results.
DePaola’s format is classic Strega Nona with his great lines, bright colors,and signature style. The book has both large illustrations and smaller ones with white space between them, lending them a comic strip style that is recognizably dePaola. His writing is clever, simple and great fun. The Italian that is thrown in makes it a joy to read aloud as do the various character voices.
An feast of autumnal fun featuring Strega Nona can only be delicious. Appropriate for ages 4-7.
Reviewed from copy received from publisher.
The Imaginary Garden by Andrew Larsen and Irene Luxbacher
When Poppa moves into an apartment, he leaves behind his big glorious garden. But Theo comes up with the idea of them having an imaginary garden instead of a real one. That way it will fit on his small balcony with ease. Poppa purchases a large canvas for them to paint on and a pair of matching gardening hats too. The two build the imaginary garden in the same way gardeners really do. They start with a wall, the blue sky and the rich earth. From there, they follow the seasons with crocuses and scilla starting out in spring. But Poppa must leave on holiday just when it is time to paint the newly blooming tulips and daffodils. Will Theo be able to handle the imaginary garden on her own?
This book works on so many levels. The writing and art are clever and inviting. Theo and Poppa’s relationship is genuine and winning with no saccharine contrivances. The use of art to dream, immerse one’s self, and create connections is done with a skillful hand and never becomes didactic.
Perfection for young art students, grandparents, and for a spring story time. This one is appropriate for ages 3-5 and grandmas and grandpas too.
A Garden of Opposites by Nancy Davis
This bright, graphically-interesting and fun book offers pairs of opposites in a garden setting. The opposites are very basic such as open/closed, long/short, and asleep/awake. Davis’ illustrations are big and bold, filled with bright colors that will shout out to a group easily. Equally likeable is the font and text size which will work well for reading aloud but also for new readers just figuring things out.
Recommended as a cheery spring opposite book, this one is perfect for toddlers ages 1-3.