Yes, I realize that for many of you, mid- and late-May are long past your time of planting, but we in Minnesota are finally nearing the end of freezing temperatures (we hope) and can safely tuck our tomato plants in the soil.
Whatever your growing season, here are five books exploring the magic of gardens.
How Does My Garden Grow? written and illustrated by Gerda Muller
first published in French 2013; English edition by Floris Books 2014
Gerda Muller’s lovely, tender illustration work accompanies this account of young Sophie who leaves her home in the city for a summer with her grandparents in the countryside. There she dives into their interesting, vigorous, immensely-satisfying work tending the vegetable garden.
A narrative storyline weaves itself around generous helpings of gardening know-how and nature lore so that we learn right along with Sophie. Finally, Sophie’s grandparents equip her with what she needs to have a small urban garden on her balcony in the city.
A marvelous approach that gracefully beckons us all into this delicious sort of partnership with nature. Ages 5 and up.
Caterpillar and Bean, written by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Hannah Tolson
published in 2018 by Candlewick Press
Bold, simplified illustrations burst with the green vigor of growing things in this clever book.
Observe a bean plant’s growth from seed to leafy teepee to harvest. Along the way, watch one tiny white dot on one of its leaves grow into a caterpillar, munch a bunch of leaves, then fashion a chrysalis.
Just as those beans emerge from that knobbly pod, so a butterfly emerges from that curious casing. A world of wonder for ages 3 and up!
Plant a Little Seed, written and illustrated by Bonnie Christensen
published in 2012, a Neal Porter book, Roaring Brook Press
Two friends sow seeds, water them, and then do a lot of waiting and dreaming in this joyful look at the rhythms of planting, tending, harvesting and enjoying.
Christenson’s robust line and vibrant color bathe these pages in a hearty, rich atmosphere exuding the pleasures of being outdoors in all seasons and a table full of home-grown produce.
And — I’m so glad she chose to represent a diverse group of community gardeners! Ages 4 and up.
A Seed is Sleepy, written by Dianna Hutts Aston, illustrated by Sylvia Long
published in 2007 by Chronicle Books
The numerous, gorgeous collaborations between Aston and Long deserve to be among the books every child has a chance to see and savor. This one regales us with the beauty, extravagant variety, and marvel of seeds.
Discover the ways in which seeds are secretive, fruitful, adventurous, inventive, generous and so much more in this elegant, informative catalog.
Simply splendid for a wide age range, 3 to 100.
The Little Gardener, written by Gerda Marie Scheidl, illustrated by Bernadette Watts
first published in Switzerland in 1985; English edition 2019 by NorthSouth Books
Finally, a classic story coming to us by way of Switzerland, spritzed with an enchanting, fairy-tale aroma.
George is a humble man, faithfully tending his small, beloved garden. His patch of earth brims with meadowland blossoms and trills with birdsong. Lovely! Still — just over the garden wall lies his neighbor’s grand, stately garden, and one of George’s run-of-the-mill daisies longs to live in just such a place.
The poor daisy, however, discovers that looks can be deceiving! Never fear — this is a comforting, sweet story, illustrated by one of Europe’s finest. Ages 4 and up.
Find lots more excellent books blooming with gardens and plants of all sorts in my list here!