Herky (short for Hercules) is one lucky guinea pig—perhaps the only one with his own garden.
A first-grade class pet, he enjoys having the kids fawn over him and teach him things. In the spring, after noticing the delicious-looking green bean plants the class cultivated, Herky catches the gardening bug and finds a use for the seeds he squirreled away last Halloween. Summering in the country, Herky puts his escape skills to good use, meets a new rabbit-friend, Daisy, and learns that gardening isn’t about instant gratification. Indeed, this is one of the book’s greatest assets. Duke has captured the difficulty of waiting for the plants to grow, which many other garden-themed books miss or gloss over. And the garden-isms that Herky enumerates are sure to raise smiles. “A garden is not a place to be angry in.” When paired with Duke’s watercolor and pen-and-ink artwork, readers certainly won’t feel angry, though they will feel empathetic with the adorably impatient guinea pig as he stamps his feet and digs up his seeds to see what they are doing, besides not growing.
As Herky says, “…you can’t stay sad for long when you have had a garden”—nor when you have read about Herky and his first gardening experience. (Picture book. 3-8)