A cheerfully illustrated and alliterative stroll through a child’s garden.
Young children who enjoy bright colors, cartoonlike illustrations and the pleasures of an adult reading to them will enjoy time spent in Molly’s garden. There, they are asked to consider a world filled with bumble bees, blackbirds and butterflies alongside flowers, ladybirds, snails, spiders, trees and worms—before being invited to go outside and explore their own gardens. Each of 10 two-page spreads focuses on one of Molly’s activities, all of which suggest a comfortable interaction with the natural world; whether she is balancing a butterfly in her hands, letting a ladybird land on her finger, stroking a snail’s head or watering flowers, Molly is at home in nature. The author relies on alliteration to draw this world (“Molly bends down to bond with a bumble bee … busy flying between flowers”); while this device may be a useful educational tool that engages young readers, it may prompt adult readers to wonder whether alliteration need sacrifice interest (“Molly turns toward a towering tree. This tree has a trunk that is thick and tall”) or accuracy (a white watering-can pours water over “wilting” flowers that do not appear wilted in the accompanying artwork). The illustrations offer a range of bright colors and shapes; a brighter image on the left side is mirrored by a paler image on the right where the text is located, making the printed words stand out. This may, however, leave readers looking for something more to keep their attention. The graphics are comprised of simple, rounded shapes that may be too short on detail for young readers. The story is also a bit random at times, with no particular rhyme or reason guiding the events that occur in Molly’s garden: Activities that might build a sense of a story—like each interaction with a bird, bug or flower—could have happened in any order.
A well-intentioned but slender invitation to explore the natural world through sight and sound.