2019 October Read-a-thon: Mid-Morning





So while I had my morning cup of coffee, I read Grace Lin‘s first picture book, The Ugly Vegetables. First of all, I love Grace Lin’s books! And this one was a sweet gardening book for young children, and it was a story out of her own experience. Her mother planted Chinese vegetables, while all the neighbors planted flowers in their gardens. The little girl didn’t understand why her mother would plant those ugly-looking vegetables. But at harvest time, when the neighbors were cutting their pretty flowers, a wonderful smell wafted throughout the neighborhood. It was the Chinese soup the little girl’s mother was cooking, using all those ugly vegetables!  All the neighbors came to see what was cooking, and all had a bowl of soup and wrote down the recipe from the little girl’s mother.

I followed up Grace Lin’s book with another gardening book for children. We Are The Gardeners, by Joanna Gaines and Kids, is about a family that becomes interested in plants, starting with a little fern that the dad brings home one day. One fern, and then other houseplants, and then the idea for starting an outdoor garden! The whole family plans the garden. The whole family does all the work to prepare the soil, plant the seeds, water it all. As always, there are a number of disasters in the process, but the family learns some very important life lessons from their experience:

Our journey as gardeners started with one small potted plant, but things did not go a planned. Turns out, trying something new isn’t always easy, but sometimes, it’s the hardest work that leads to the greatest reward.

Green Green: A Community Gardening Story, by Marie and Baldev Lamba, is a picture book about city living and the need for a little green space in a neighborhood. As the city grows larger and larger, the children of the neighborhood “inspire the community to join together and build a garden for everyone to share in the middle of the city.”  This story reminded me of Seedfolks, by Paul Fleischman, a book I loved and reviewed here.


Another book for young people that I read this morning is Wangari’s Trees of Peace, by Jeanette Winter. The story of Wangari Maathai’s efforts to plant trees in her deforested country of Kenya is a story of courage and leadership…and a testament to her belief that “the little grassroots people can change this world.” She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work, and has inspired so many people throughout the world.


I’m fascinated by the many stories of great and influential gardeners. Gertrude Jekyll, by Twigs Way, is a lovely short biography of one of England’s most influential gardeners. This was a fast read (although the print was very small for my older eyes), with beautiful illustrations and photographs. I enjoyed learning about GJ’s life and career, and am inspired to read more about her and books written by her! One small note of trivia from the book: her family was friends with Robert Louis Stevenson, and he honored them by naming the main character in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, using their family name!


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