We Planted a Pumpkin

We Planted a Pumpkin
Rob Ramsden
Scallywag Press

Rob Ramsden’s boy and girl characters from We Found a Seed are now a little more savvy about what happens when a seed is planted but even so they’re a tad impatient about the pumpkin seed they plant, hoping it will bear fruit by Halloween.

Young readers and listeners share with them the gourd’s entire growing process as first roots, and then leaves, start to sprout.

Come summer the flowers bloom and are visited by bees, butterflies and other insects and as the weeks pass, the flowers die –

all except one at the base of which they find a small green bump – not yet a pumpkin but on its way to so being.

Excitement mounts along with the pumpkin’s growth, as it absorbs the rain and soaks up the sun.

Then little by little, the ripening happens; the pumpkin swells and turns orange until finally, it’s harvest time.

That’s not quite the end of the story though, for there’s the hollowing out and face carving to do – and then hurrah! It’s Halloween …

Like Rob’s previous titles, this beautifully illustrated book is pitch perfect for little ones. They’ll love spotting all the minibeasts on every spread.

I have no doubt that like the characters in the story, youngsters will be motivated to engage with nature, try planting some pumpkin seeds and become excited as they follow their development.

When Grandma Gives You A Lemon Tree

When Grandma Gives You A Lemon Tree
Jamie L.B. Deenihan and Lorraine Rocha
Sterling

Most of us receive the occasional present from a relative that isn’t quite what we’d been hoping for and so it is with the little girl in this story from debut author Jamie L.B.Deenihan.

In the run up to her birthday, the little girl makes a list of electronic items she wants – a robot dog, a phone and a computer number among them. But, her Grandma gives her a lemon tree.

There are all manner of things you might do with such a gift but the girl entertains such possibilities – dropping it from a bridge, sending it skywards attached to balloons, or dumping it on someone else’s doorstep – in her imagination only, and proceeds to tell readers how to care for the tree

until almost a whole year later …

All that lemon juice has its uses though, especially if you’re a bit of an entrepreneur like our young protagonist who has ideas for raising some cash to spend on … something from her birthday list perhaps?

Love the Pear brand electronics in this illustrations

That would be telling, but her purchase certainly makes for a great finale.

With its gentle humour, gardening tips, adorable characters, recipe for making lemonade, and Lorraine Rocha’s vibrant, funny illustrations, there’s not a hint of sourness in this story. Rather it’s tangy, overwhelmingly positive and an entire delight as well as an incentive to get outside and grow something that everyone can enjoy. And ‘enjoy’ is what children and adults alike will do when they share this story.

Errol’s Garden

Errol’s Garden
Gillian Hibbs
Child’s Play

Urban tower-block-dwelling Errol loves to grow things; he knows he’s good at the job as his family starts running out of space in their cramped home. The green-fingered lad dreams of having a real garden to cultivate and one day discovers the perfect spot: a flat roof on top of the very block he lives in.

With the help of his Dad and small sister, he researches

and then enlists the help of all his friends and neighbours and together they draw up a plan.

Everyone has something to contribute …

and they each take on a different aspect of project garden until together they create a smashing green space that’s full of plants both edible and beautiful to look at.

What joy to be able to harvest produce from right there atop their very own place of residence

and to have a place that’s constantly changing and surprising them.

As well as a celebration of cultivating a community garden, this smashing story celebrates diversity and co-operation.
Errol is both enterprising and inspiring: a lad to emulate no matter whether you live in an urban, suburban or rural environment.

I am at present living in a house in the country with a huge garden, so I know the enormous pleasure of being able to consume home-grown produce – plums, apples, strawberries, beans, tomatoes and chard – to name just some of its bounties, for several months of the year. You can’t beat that and it’s what bursts forth from Gillian Hibbs’ super spreads.

Thoroughly recommended for families and classrooms.

Information Briefing:Bees, Gardening & Cities

What on Earth? Bees
Andrea Quigley and Paulina Morgan
QED
The author and illustrator of the latest in the ‘What On Earth?’ series offer a cross-curricular approach to a fascinating and vitally important insect, the bee.
It’s packed with fascinating information, interesting things to investigate, art and craft activities, poems, stories – I had a good laugh over the folk tale from Thailand telling ‘When bees were friends with elephants’; there’s even a recipe for delicious honey flapjacks – mmm!
Most pertinent though, since our native bees are under threat, are the projects which aim to increase potential nesting spots: for bumble bees ‘Make a bumble bee ‘n’ bee’; and ‘Build a solitary bee home’ for bees such as the leafcutter and mason bees to nest in.
Although each spread is chock full of information, the presentation with copious bright, attractive and sometimes amusing, illustrations, speech bubbles and factual snippets on bold colour blocks is never overwhelming.

This stylish book is certainly worth adding to a family book collection or primary school topic box.

The Children’s Garden
Carole Lexa Schaefer and Pierr Morgan
Little Bigfoot
This appealing story inspired by a real community garden for children in Seattle is a debut book for both author and illustrator.
A sign on the gate welcomes readers in to ‘listen, see, smell, touch – even taste’
and to read this book really does feel like a multi-sensory experience.
We start with the deep, dark soil, ‘rich with rotted grass, apple peels and onion skins,’ into which the children dig and then scatter their seeds. They pat, water …

and weed and soon are rewarded by the appearance of tiny sprouting plants.
It’s not long before the whole space is filled with a profusion of ‘tomato clusters’, ‘sunflower stands’, ‘green bean tents’, ‘strawberry clusters’ and more.

Peppermint to smell and chew.

A rich reward for their labours but also a place to have fun and to relax.

Imaginative language and bold, bright illustrations and splendid seed packet endpapers make this portrait of a bountiful co-operative gardening project a delight.
I’d like to think it will inspire adults to help youngsters seek out similar local projects or failing that, contemplate starting such an enterprise for children in their own neighbourhood.

In Focus: Cities
Libby Walden et al.
360 Degrees
You can be a globetrotter without moving from your sofa in what is very much a bits and pieces look at ten of the world’s most iconic cities – their culture, their character and their civilisations – landmarks and artefacts of cultures ancient and modern (largely hidden beneath the gate fold flaps).
Starting with New York, and encompassing Tokyo,



Paris, Rome, Moscow, Istanbul, Sydney, Cairo, Rio de Janeiro and London, each of the destinations has a different illustrator, ensuring that the diversity of the cities is heightened.
The author manages to pack a great deal of information into each fold-out spread so that readers will find themselves becoming engrossed in such unlikely topics as tulips and Turkish delight (Istanbul), or catacombs and cancan dancing (Paris).
An appetite whetter and an engrossing one at that!

I’ve signed the charter  

That’s Not a Daffodil!

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That’s Not a Daffodil
Elizabeth Honey
Allen & Unwin
When Tom’s next-door neighbour, Mr Yilmaz,  calls with a crumpled bag containing what looks somewhat like an onion, but Mr Yilmaz assures him is a daffodil, the boy is more than a little sceptical. “Let’s plant it and see,” Mr Yilmaz suggests, so they do, in a large pot. Tom waits and waits but nothing much happens; He calls it a desert so Mr Y. suggests making it rain and he does …

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Still, nothing seems to be happening, but they keep watching until Tom declares “a green beak” is peeping through. Inevitably, – as beaks do – it opens up; and becomes a green- fingered hand.

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Mr Yilmaz continues visiting, bearing gifts of various fruits and vegetables, Tom’s curiosity growing along with the plant all the while as it becomes “Grandpa’s hairs in the wind”, “a wet rocket”, needs the assistance of “the plant ambulance” when Mr Yilmaz’s grandchildren accidentally knock over the pot in play; and then after some TLC, shines forth as a “street light”, heralding spring.

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What though, does young Tom see when the bud finally bursts forth in bloom …
Wonderfully playful, uplifting and full of hope, this beautiful story introduces so much – notions of good neighbourliness, diversity, respectfulness and a whole lot of learning about gardening, and growth – not only of the flower but also of a special friendship. At the same time it interweaves imaginative notions in the form of metaphor and all this through the eyes of a young child.
The author’s gorgeously warm, soft-focus illustrations in, I think, watercolour and oil pastel, exude warmth and a joie-de-vivre.
A perfect springtime share for early years teachers and parents of pre-schoolers.