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It’s All in the Dirt

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Debbie Glade reviews two titles that inspire young readers to dig in the dirt.

As an avid backyard “farmer” myself, I can’t seem to resist books that teach kids (and their parents) how things grow. An Edible Alphabet: 26 Reasons to Love the Farm, ($16.99, Tricycle Press, ages 5-8) by Carol Watterson, does just that in a most creative way. The book features fascinating facts about animals and plant-based foods, using alphabetic titles as a means to introduce various topics. How does “Flip Flop Fry” sound to you as a way to teach readers about wild salmon and protecting life in the ocean? Or how about “Stink Stank Stunk” to teach readers about how farmers spread manure in the fields? I love the creativity of that! The vivid illustrations by Michela Sorrentino really make this book extra special. And what I love most is both the author and the illustrator grow their own veggies at home, just like I do. This book is sure to inspire you and your children to start your own garden.

How Things Work in the Yard ($14.99, Blue Apple Books, Ages 4-8) is an ultra sturdy book, by Lisa Campbell Ernst, which answers many of the questions children often ask their parents. Each 2-page spread in the book features a plant, animal or object one would find in a back yard, such as a ball, firefly, caterpillar, rock or squirrel. Each item is explained in enough detail to teach young readers about how animals live, plants grow and objects come to be. The paper used for the book has an attractive matte finish, not usually found in children’s books, with a graph paper grid. The descriptions are supported by very unique and appealing illustrations, made from paper cutouts.

“When a ball bounces on the ground, it squishes a little, then pushes back to its round shape.”

Don’t all curious kids wonder about things like that? Heck, I’m not a kid, yet I still think about things like that.

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