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by Stella Fry & illustrated by Sheila Moxley

Age Range: 6 - 9

Pub Date: March 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-84686-053-9
Publisher: Barefoot

A two-part home-garden manual for British and like climes, with a thin fictive overlay on the first half.

Young Billy recounts the pleasures of working with his grandpa in a “vegetable patch at the garden’s end” from late winter through fall. His gee-whiz narration often waxes pedantic: “I spy slimy slugs and snails. Caterpillars too! And I see aphids and blackflies, feasting on young, frail leaves.” Once the patch is put to sleep, Fry drops the perfunctory plot completely and goes on to recap, season by season, general gardening agendas for adults and for children on facing pages. In Moxley’s similarly stiff art, generic figures with, generally, fixed expressions pose amid sharply regimented rows of growing but thinly planted veggies. (Despite several references to flowers there are none to be seen, except for a spindly row of daffodils.) Aside from not using mulch, Grandpa gardens organically. Readers may well find themselves confused. Not only does the garden in the first part not match the suggested plan in the second, the author mentions crops that Grandpa doesn’t happen to grow, like raspberries and sweetcorn. Furthermore, the instructions to plant broad beans in the fall (only possible where winters are mild, and for a fall crop, which she doesn’t mention) and to check for hedgehogs before lighting bonfires aren’t the only ones not suitable for most North American gardens.

The strain of trying to cover too much territory shows in this patchwork import. (Instructional picture book. 6-9)