A lovely visual tribute to the persistent hard work behind every flourishing garden.

THE LITTLE GARDENER

A lad scarcely bigger than his pet worm struggles to maintain a large garden by himself.

The garden “didn’t look like much, / but it meant everything to its gardener. // It was his home. It was his supper. / It was his joy.” Lushly painted primordial plant forms surround the boy’s tiny thatched cottage; stylized depictions suggest proliferating invaders like thistle and plantain. As undesirables multiply and insects infest, the harvest worsens. The boy despairs: “he wasn’t much good at gardening. // … // He was just too little.” Dispatching an unheard wish for “a bit of help” into the night, the overworked lad sleeps for a month. His prized inspiration—a solitary red zinnia—also charms a “someone”—a full-sized, brown-skinned girl who lives nearby. “It was alive and wonderful. / It gave the someone hope. It made the someone want to work harder.” Several spreads showcase the transformation surrounding the slumbering boy as the girl weeds, sows, and transplants. The little gardener awakens to a colorful summer landscape of blooms, butterflies, even an increasing worm population. The narrative ends by coyly inverting its first lines: “He doesn’t look like much, but he means everything to his garden.” Given the girl’s major role, the contrivance doesn’t ring true. Hughes’ paintings trump her story, depicting the garden’s renewal through color and form.

A lovely visual tribute to the persistent hard work behind every flourishing garden. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-909263-43-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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A TREE IS NICE

A nursery school approach to a general concept. "A tree is nice"- Why? Because..."We can climb the tree...play pirate ship...pick the apples...build playhouses out of the leaves. A tree is nice to hang a swing in...Birds build nests in trees... Sticks come off trees...People have picnics there too"...etc. etc. One follows the give and take of a shared succession of reactions to what a tree- or trees- can mean. There is a kind of poetic simplicity that is innate in small children. Marc Simont has made the pictures, half in full color, and they too have a childlike directness (with an underlying sophistication that adults will recognize). Not a book for everyone -but those who like it will like it immensely. The format (6 x 11) makes it a difficult book for shelving, so put it in the "clean hands" section of flat books. Here's your first book for Arbor Day use- a good spring and summer item.

Pub Date: June 15, 1956

ISBN: 978-0-06-443147-7

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1956

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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