A celebration of growing and eating that is just in time for spring planting.

WHAT'S IN THE GARDEN?

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)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-58469-189-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dawn Publications

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

HOME

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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