WATER, WEED AND WAIT

Miss Marigold, the breezy “garden lady” at Pepper Lane Elementary, suggests turning a littered patch of hard-pan into a school garden. Between the kick-off cleanup day and a harvest party, there’s plenty of mercurial industry, as volunteers frame raised beds and truck in rich soil. Mr. Barkley, a curmudgeonly neighbor with a brilliant garden, gradually warms to and aids the children’s efforts. The authors (retired and practicing teachers, respectively) draw from experiences with school gardens. Miss Marigold introduces such resources as beneficial insect release (“Meet my good guys for the garden”) and worm bins, and the double-spread aftermatter includes a few websites, a checklist for beginning a school garden and a border of charming photographs. However, Madden’s mixed-media pictures are a disappointing pastiche of dizzyingly varied perspectives and rubbery cartoon caricatures. While some spreads successfully present scenes of cooperative activity in kid-appealing ways, the overarching visual sense is frenetic yet oddly superficial: There’s little behind those grins and cross-eyes. Smart teachers will find the hook and perhaps harvest the exuberance for their own school gardens. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-58246-320-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2010

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Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the...

ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER

Rhymed couplets convey the story of a girl who likes to build things but is shy about it. Neither the poetry nor Rosie’s projects always work well.

Rosie picks up trash and oddments where she finds them, stashing them in her attic room to work on at night. Once, she made a hat for her favorite zookeeper uncle to keep pythons away, and he laughed so hard that she never made anything publicly again. But when her great-great-aunt Rose comes to visit and reminds Rosie of her own past building airplanes, she expresses her regret that she still has not had the chance to fly. Great-great-aunt Rose is visibly modeled on Rosie the Riveter, the iconic, red-bandanna–wearing poster woman from World War II. Rosie decides to build a flying machine and does so (it’s a heli-o-cheese-copter), but it fails. She’s just about to swear off making stuff forever when Aunt Rose congratulates her on her failure; now she can go on to try again. Rosie wears her hair swooped over one eye (just like great-great-aunt Rose), and other figures have exaggerated hairdos, tiny feet and elongated or greatly rounded bodies. The detritus of Rosie’s collections is fascinating, from broken dolls and stuffed animals to nails, tools, pencils, old lamps and possibly an erector set. And cheddar-cheese spray.

Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the right place. (historical note) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0845-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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This pleasant look at gardening in a city setting reflects a growing trend.

ANYWHERE FARM

Several inner-city children work together to plant seeds and cultivate their own gardens, transforming their little “anywhere farms” into a lush, green community garden covering a vacant city lot.

A pink-cheeked little girl in overalls receives a single seed from a helpful tan-skinned neighbor on the title page, and she then inspires a flurry of gardening in her neighborhood with children and adults of different ethnicities joining in, including a white boy who uses a wheelchair. The bouncy, rhyming text conveys the basic requirements of growing plants from seeds as well as suggesting a wide variety of unusual containers for growing plants. Several leading questions about the plant growth cycle are interspersed within the story, set in large type on full pages that show a seed gradually sprouting and growing into a huge sunflower on the final, wordless page. The joyful text makes growing flowers and vegetables seem easy, showing plants spilling out of alternative containers as well as more traditional raised beds and the concluding, large garden plot. The text focuses on the titular concept of an “anywhere farm,” without differentiating between farms and gardens, but this conceit is part of the amusing, rollicking tone. Detailed, soft-focus illustrations in mixed media use an autumnal palette of muted green, peach, and tan that don’t quite match the buoyant flavor of the cheerful text.

This pleasant look at gardening in a city setting reflects a growing trend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7499-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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