A very busy informational picture book for preschool and primary grades.
There is almost too much information in this 32-page compendium. Following a generic one-line introduction, Gibbons launches into discussions of climate, how and where plants grow (from seeds, from bulbs, and on vines, bushes, and trees), habitats, environment, annuals, perennials. This occupies 10 pages. Another 10 pages explain the parts of a flower as well as pollination and propagation. “How to Grow a Garden” fills six pages, starting with “Spring” and including pages for “Summer” and “Fall” (but no Winter). Finally, Gibbons discusses community gardens, greenhouses, and florists before a concluding page with thumbnail drawings of “Birthday Flowers as well as assorted “Flower Facts”—curiosities that may intrigue readers patient enough to find them. The large, 10-inch-square trim, and the attractive, detailed, and accurate watercolor-and–colored-pencil illustrations outlined in black ink within, will attract picture-book readers, but the cramped and cluttered layout may be off-putting. At the same time, the absence of a table of contents or index limits its utility for older students’ research. Gibbons’ fans may be disappointed by the overreach.
Gibbons’ lovely botanical renderings are ill-served by the effort to cover too much for the format. (Informational picture book. 5-8)