My Garden

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.

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Spilling Ink: A Young Writer’s Handbook

Spilling Ink: A Young Writer’s Handbook by Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter, illustrated by Matt Phelan.

Two veteran authors take their years of writing, their know-how, and their energy and offer it happily to new authors, both young and old.  What could have been a dry subject is definitely not in their hands.  Simply starting the book will have you hooked and make you wonder why you never wrote that book that you know you have inside you.  Mazer and Potter take on all of your excuses, throw in some great advice, and really inspire you to go for it!  Written with lots of humor, this book has I Dare You sections to get you started, funny stories of both failure and success, and offers a refreshing look at the process of writing.

There are so many parts to love in this book.  It has real information about subjects like metaphors, perspective, setting, and plot.  At the same time it is light-hearted and very personal.  Mazer and Potter have created an invitation to join them in both the success and failure of writing.  Their personal stories make the book a pleasure to read, carrying the information easily to readers.  Once you start reading, you will find it reads as easily as one of their novels, which is rare in a nonfiction book on the writing process! 

Phelan’s art suits the writing well with its organic and natural feel.  The illustrations and the fact that the chapters are broken into small bite-sized pieces contribute to the welcoming feel of the entire book.

Highly recommended, I see this as the ideal book to share with writing classes, to encourage young authors, and to hand to adults who want to start writing for children.  Not only will it offer those adults the tools they need to write, it will also show them exactly what a great book for children should be.

Appropriate for ages 10-14.  (I had to pry it out of my 13-year-old son’s hands to get to finish it.  And only by promising not to touch his bookmark!)

Reviewed from Advanced Reader Copy received from author.

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