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Spring is Here, There and Everywhere

If you could see my shelves at home, you’d know how much I love books about gardening. And one of my greatest pleasures is sharing my gardening knowledge with children. And Then it’s Spring ($16.99, Roaring Brook Press, ages 4 and up) is a perfect book for curious little gardeners. There are but a few wonderful words on every page, written by Julie Fogliano, and a whole lot of story telling going on with the illustrations, by Erin E. Stead. The story is about a boy and his dog who are eager to be done with winter so they can see less brown in the garden and more green. Yet day after day, week after week, brown is all they see. Until one day spring has arrived. I love the way this story charmingly epitomizes the anticipation every child experiences while waiting for something truly important to him or her. It also inspires kids to want to get out in their yards and plant seeds. And that is a very good thing.

What better time than spring to read a book about farmyard animals? Even better yet, this book should be read on a night when your little one is having trouble settling down to go to sleep. Farmyard Beat ($15.99, Knopf Books for Young Readers, ages 1 and up) by Lindsey Craig is a catchy rhyming story about different farm animals that cannot sleep because they’ve got a beat going on in their heads. What you’ll truly love about this book is the fact that the animals eventually do wear themselves out, hopefully inspiring your child to do the same! You’ll also admire the illustrations by the inimitable Marc Brown (of the Arthur books and cartoon fame). The vivid pictures are actually collages made from hand-painted papers, and they’re just so darn cute.

-Reviewed by Debbie Glade. To see Debbie’s organic tomato garden video, click here.

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Life is a Garden

If you thought it was no longer possible to come across a totally original children’s book, then you haven’t read Grandpa Green ($16.99, Roaring Brook Press, ages 5 and up). The story is told through the voice of a great-grandson of a talented gardener. The gardener’s life unfolds through imagery of the many topiaries he created in his garden. From childhood experiences to war, marriage, children and old age, this is a most creative way to illustrate a man’s life.  You’ll find yourself looking at the pictures for a long time.

The book is written and illustrated by talented Caldecott Honor Medalist, Lane Smith (of bestselling It’s a Book fame). Grandparents everywhere will certainly enjoy reading this imaginative picture book to their grandchildren.

– Review by Debbie Glade

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Gardening and Farming for Growing Minds

Regular contributor Debbie Glade writes about a topic near and dear to my heart. When I spot the first signs of green pushing out of the soil from bulbs I planted way back when, I always get an excited feeling that spring is not far off. And to see the fruits of my labor (and back pain) makes it all worthwhile, year after year. Read what Debbie has to say about some books she has recently read for L.A. Parent.

As an avid organic home gardener myself, I get excited when I hear that a child is interested in learning just exactly how our food and plants grow. And what better way is there to encourage a child to start gardening than an informative book with awesome illustrations or photographs? Here are three books to get you started.

Water, Weed and Wait

amazon_titleThe beautiful front and back covers alone of Water, Weed and Wait are enough to make you want to open this book. Written by Edith Hope Fine and Angela Demos Halpin and illustrated by Colleen Madden, the story is about the teacher and students of an elementary classroom who get together to clear a weed filled area outside the school and plant a veggie and flower garden. The book does a good job of showing just how much work and patience it takes to plan and care for a garden. But it’s the colorful, happy illustrations that really make this book extra special.

Up We Grow: A Year in the Life of a Small, Local Farmer 2112_cv2

Written by Deborah Hodge and photographed by Brian Harris, Up We Grow: A Year in the Life of a Small, Local Farmer is a rather sophisticated, nonfiction book about real, sustainable farms and the hard work the farmers must do during all four seasons. There is essential information in the book about many aspects of farming such as caring for the soil, planting, watering, composting, animal farming and even how farmers support one another. I like that photos of real farmers in action were used and each of the farms that were visited to write the book are listed on the last page. Teaching our children about what it takes to grow our food and care for our earth is the best way to protect our environment. Reading this book with your children is a perfect way to introduce them to the world of sustainable farming. Parents, you’ll learn something too.

The Life of Rice: From Seedling to Supper

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Award winning photographer and author Richard Sobol traveled to Thailand to attend the Annual Royal Plowing Ceremony, the Thai celebration of rice. Why celebrate rice, you may ask? Well, in this book you learn that rice is the staple food in Thailand (and many other countries), feeding so many people, that they want to commemorate the start of the crop season. While reading this book, I said out loud, “Oh. So that’s how the rice is grown. That’s when they pick it. Oh, so rice is really a grass. So that’s how the grain is separated from the plant! Wow, growing rice takes a lot of work!” Finally I know the answers to rice questions I’ve had for years. So if your children have ever asked you about where the tiny grains of rice they were eating came from, this book will beautifully answer that question and more. In the back are four valuable pages of facts about rice. I love the photos in the book and the way the author wrote the story through the perspective of his own real-life learning experience. Readers will truly appreciate what it took to grow their food after reading The Life of Rice. debbieglade

Debbie Glade, today’s guest reviewer, is the author, illustrator and voice talent of the award-winning children’s picture book The Travel Adventures of Lilly P Badilly: Costa Rica, published by Smart Poodle Publishing. She visits South Florida schools with her reading, writing and geography programs. For years, Debbie was a travel writer for luxury cruise lines. She writes parenting articles for various websites and is the Geography Awareness Editor for WanderingEducators.com. She blogs daily at smartpoodlepublishing.com.

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