Author: Glenda Millard
Illustrator: Rebecca Cool
Story:Read my review of Isabella's Garden, a delightful picture book for children 3 to 6 years old.
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication Date: 2009
Ruth Krauss's classic little picture book for children 2 to 5 is a delight. The spare and simple line drawings are by Crockett Johnson, well-known for Harold and the Purple Crayon. A little boy plants a carrot seed. Despite being told by his entire family that the seed won’t grow, the boy perseveres. Every day, he carefully weeds and waters the area where he planted the seed. A plant grows, and one day, the boy is rewarded with a big orange carrot. (HarperCollins, 1945. ISBN: 9780060233501) Read the review of The Carrot Seed.
It’s nice to see a book about how a family living in a city apartment creates a garden. A little girl and her father go to the grocery store and buy flowering plants. Then, they take the bus back to their city apartment. There they plant a window box as a birthday present for her mother. Eve Bunting’s charming story is told in rhyme and illustrated with lovely realistic paintings by Kathryn Hewitt. This book has been a hit with three- to six-year-olds. (Voyager Books, 2000. ISBN: 0152023720)
I’ve found that children four and older, as well as adults, want to go out and plant a rainbow of flowers after enjoying this book by Lois Ehlert. A mother and child “plant a rainbow,” beginning with bulbs in the fall and seeds and seedlings in the spring, and ending with a beautiful garden of flowers in a veritable rainbow of colors. The book’s striking design and Ehlert’s gorgeous cut-paper collages of flowers make this a particularly appealing book. (Voyager Books, 1988. ISBN: 0152626107)
This picture book by Eve Bunting is sure to inspire three- to eight-year-olds to plant their own sunflower houses. Lovely realistic illustrations in watercolor and colored pencil by Kathryn Hewitt complement the rhyming text. A little boy plants a circle of sunflower seeds in the spring. By summer, the boy has a “sunflower house” where he and his friends enjoy many hours of fun. When fall comes, both birds and children collect and scatter seeds. (Voyager Books, 1999. ISBN: 0152019529)
7. The Gardener
During the Depression, young Lydia is sent to the city to stay with her Uncle Jim, a reserved, somber man, “until things get better.” She brings her love of gardens with her. The text, in the form of Lydia’s letters home, and the double-page artwork by David Small joyously illustrate how Lydia creates gardens that transform both the neighborhood and her relationship with Uncle Jim. I recommend the Caldecott Honor Book for six- to 10-year-olds. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1997. ISBN: 9780374325176)
8. City Green
What happens when a diverse group of city neighbors works together to rid their street of a litter-filled vacant lot? How young Mary, Miss Rosa, and their neighbors transform the vacant lot into a community garden of flowers and vegetables makes an interesting and realistic story. Author and illustrator DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan’s artwork in watercolor, pencils, and crayons captures the transformation of the lot. I recommend the book for six- to 10-year-olds. (HarperCollins, 1994. ISBN: 068812786X)
Barbara Lambase’s oil paintings, alive with the rich color and movement of city life in a diverse neighborhood, add drama to Erika Tamar’s story of a little girl named Marisol and a new community garden. When Marisol plants a seed she’s found, it grows into a giant sunflower, to her neighbor’s delight. Her sadness when the sunflower dies in the fall is forgotten when Marisol sees the beautiful mural of sunflowers that teen artists have created. (Harcourt Brace, 1996. ISBN: 0152305823)
Author and illustrator Lois Ehlert’s cut-paper collages are bold and colorful. The story of a father and child’s vegetable garden project is told in rhyme. While the text of the story is brief, each of the plants, seeds, and gardening tools illustrated is labeled, making this a book that’s fun to read aloud and then read through again identifying everything. The story begins with the planting of seeds and sprouts and ends with delicious vegetable soup. (Voyager Books, 1990. ISBN: 0152325808)
Author and illustrator Kathy Henderson’s mixed media artwork adds humor and charm to this picture book for three- to six-year-olds. Joe and Gram plant and cultivate a garden. Gram works methodically while Joe explores and learns, each helped by “the good brown earth.” They dig in the fall, plan in the winter, plant in the spring, weed and water in summer, and gather produce and feast in late summer. The repetition in the text adds to the book’s appeal. (Candlewick Press, 2003. ISBN: 9780763638412)