The pleasures of getting down and dirty in the garden can be contagious.
“Bye, bye, snow shovel,” crows Nell, trotting out into the muddy yard with her eager dog, Rusty, and a wheelbarrow full of pansies. “Hello, trowel!” Neighbor Norman—bow tie, white shirt, new shoes, fussily combed hair—declines the offer of a trowel of his own, but he lingers to watch as Nell and Rusty enthusiastically make holes and hills and dirt angels. Once Nell discovers a worm, some lost toys and other earthy treasures, his resistance crumbles, and over the fence he comes to help in the joyful construction of a “dirt museum” from pansies, soil, rocks and found prizes. Davenier’s splashy, transparent watercolors don’t quite do justice to the muck’s muckiness (or, sadly, the pansies, which, after posing in a bright row on the copyright page, for the most part just make a pale, indistinct blur in later illustrations) but capture the joy of getting back in (literal) touch with the planet. She also subtly leaves her figures’ ages indeterminate, so that in different scenes, Nell could be seen as Norman’s agemate, older or even an adult.
An exuberant valentine to spring and to gardens in general. As Norman puts it: “Hooray for dirty digging!” (Picture book. 5-8)