Berkes’ latest is a departure from many children’s gardening books, combining rhyming verses with recipes celebrating the garden’s bounty.
Rectos present readers with a rhyming challenge to name what is growing, providing textual clues as well as gorgeously detailed and realistic illustrations, which often feature the flowers, insect pollinators and at least the beginnings of the fruit or vegetable. “It grows on a vine with skin that is green. / It’s sliced in a salad; it’s long and it’s lean. / But sometimes it’s shorter with soft little prickles / And placed in a jar for real tasty pickles.” (Deathless poetry this is not.) Versos show close-ups of a child enjoying or preparing a dish featuring that fruit/vegetable, the recipe at the bottom of the page—sweet-and-sour cucumber salad in this case. From the popular ants on a log to the more daring French onion soup, breakfast-y carrot muffins to a dessert of blueberry pie, young chefs are likely to get a wide introduction to both the products of the garden and the culinary arts. The recipes include thumbnail pictures next to the ingredients, and the steps are well-written. Two recipes specify that children should ask for adult help, and closing notes reinforce this, but there is no prominent, introductory note to underscore cooking safety. While the children are sometimes oddly proportioned, they do represent a nice mix of races and cultural backgrounds.
A celebration of growing and eating that is just in time for spring planting. (facts about the featured foods, how seeds start, what plants need, plant parts, glossary of cooking terms, list of garden songs, books and websites) (Informational picture book/recipe book. 3-8)