Picture Books and Gardening


What writer hasn’t felt like the little boy in THE CARROT SEED? We start with the tiniest seed of an idea and a wish. We endure the “kind” chants of doubters from within and without. But if we keep working, keep tending our seed we may well reap an amazing harvest.

One chant our doubters (including ourselves) share is: “It’s been done before. Done better. Why even try?” The “why” is because each planting, each garden is different, and all have value.

My first garden was a clump of wild violets given to me by the gardener next door. I was five, and planted them with amazement. That experience eventually became one of the seeds for my SEEDS illustrated by Steve Bjorkman (1994). Here are five picture books that explore gardening each in a different way.  As you write and garden this season remember to be open and aware. You may be living the vital seed for your next picture book.                  

FLOWER GARDEN by Eve Bunting. Illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt. Harcourt 1994. 

Gardeners know the enjoyment is in the doing, the planning, and the tending regardless the garden’s size. Bunting’s brief, rhythmic text celebrates an urban flower box garden.

FROG AND TOAD TOGETHER  by Arnold Lobel. Harper, 1972.

Toad discovers what many gardeners know, that the hardest part of gardening is waiting for the blooms. He even reads them a story so they won’t be afraid of the dark, and they’ll start to grow.

PLANTING A RAINBOW by Lois Ehlert. Harcourt, 1988.

A child’s voice shares the yearly rhythm of how she and her mother plan and plant a garden rainbow. Ehlert’s vibrant paper cut illustrations leave the reader eager to plant even more species and colors.

PLANTING THE WILD GARDEN by Kathryn Galbraith. Illustrated by Wendy Halperin. Peachtree, 2011.

Not all gardens are planted by people alone. Galbraith’s lyrical text leads us through never-ending cycles as wind and water, birds and animals, plants and people work together to plan the wild meadow garden.

ZENNIA’S FLOWER GARDEN by Monica Wellington. Dutton, 2005.

Gardening is a science as well as art. Wellington successfully blends these two aspects as she shares a girl’s delight in growing her garden.

SEEDS illustrated by Steve Bjorkman. Houghton, 1994.

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