Growing a Reader: Garden Pictures Books for Spring 2022

Spring has sprung! Or I’m sure it will any time now. And with it comes the chance to get outside (finally!) and enjoy nature, feel the sunshine, and play in the garden. This spring the publishing world has supplied us with a bumper crop of titles to inspire gardeners of all ages. With picture books and board books, fiction and nonfiction, there is something to inspire all of us to grab our garden tools and start digging. Happy reading (and planting)!

BOARD BOOKS:

My Garden: My World in 100 Words
Happy Yak, illustrated by Marijke Buurlage
Quarto
Published April 12, 2022
Ages Birth to 3

This bright and bouncy vocab primer explores the seasons and fun to be had in nature with simple word to illustration connections. Broken into easy to interpret categories, each spread includes object, action, and emotion words, and with a nod to social emotional learning, color-coded dots indicate actions and emotions.

PICTURE BOOKS:

Behold Our Magical Garden: Poems Fresh from the School Garden
Allen Wolf, illustrated by Daniel Duncan
Candlewick
Published March 8, 2022
Ages 8-12

Part poetry collection, part gardening guide, and all fun. Wolf’s poetry and thoughtful end notes weave English language arts lessons, with STEM topics in verses full of curiosity, wonder, and interesting biology facts. The diverse class groups and detailed digital drawings are an engaging combination sure to inspire garden clubs to start planning.

The Fairy Garden
Georgia Buckthorn, illustrated by Isabella Mazzanti
Quarto
Published April 5, 2022
Ages 4-7

Mimi dreams of a fairy garden and works diligently to plant, prune, and tidy her garden until it’s perfect—for people, not fairies. With a little encouragement from its former inhabitants, she lets go and grows a beautiful and wild garden for the fairies to thrive. Lovely, soft-focused, colored pencil illustrations evoke a magical setting for dreaming of fairy-folk. Illustrated endnotes include rules for creating a fairy-friendly garden, adorable housing included.

NONFICTION PICTURE BOOKS:

Little Homesteader: A Spring Treasury of Recipes, Crafts, and Wisdom
Angela Ferraro-Fanning, illustrated by AnneliesDraws
Quarto
Published March 22, 2022
Ages 6-8

A fun and fact-filled celebration of spring’s natural wonders. Full of wholesome, hands-on ways to enjoy the foods, plants, and holidays that make spring so lovely, including crafts, recipes, and gardening tips. Vibrant colored pencil illustrations of veggies, bugs, and animals also include two rosy-cheeked children enjoying all the fun.

The Gardener of Alcatraz: A True Story
Emma Bland Smith, illustrated by Jenn Ely
Charlesbridge
Published April 5, 2022
Ages 7-10

Elliott Michener, sent to Alcatraz as a convicted counterfeiter, changed both his life and the island prison when he discovered a passion for gardening. Without white-washing Michener’s crimes or intentions, Bland Smith treats his story with empathy and his transformation from criminal to landscaper with dignity. Ely’s thoughtful use of color swings from dreary to cheerful (and back) in attentive accordance to the mood of the text. Back matter includes a dual timeline for Alcatraz Island and Michener, extensive notes on both, and a bibliography and author’s note.

Planting a Garden in Room 6: From Seeds to Salad
Caroline Arnold
Charlesbridge
Published March 15, 2022
Ages 3-7

With a little help from their teacher, the students in room 6 will learn how to plant and tend a garden. Step-by-step explanations and photos cover everything from seed sprouting to planting to harvesting and taste-testing. A tool guide, Q&A, vocabulary terms, and both digital and hard copy resources complement the extremely detailed text. Planting a Garden in Room 6 is the third book in the collaborative series between Arnold and kindergarten teacher, Jennifer Best.


Which titles would you add to this list?

Queen Quest: A Review of The Queen in the Cave

Queen in the Cave
Júlia Sardá
Candlewick Studio
May 24, 2022
Ages 5 to 9

Franca dreams of a queen in a cave. Feeling a strange need to abandon all she once enjoyed, Franca recruits her younger sisters, Carmela and Tomasina, to journey with her on her quest through the dark forest to find the queen. Although her sisters become afraid of the forest and the creatures they meet, Franca motivates them with her own blooming confidence to continue. When Franca, Carmela, and Tomasina finally reach the cave, they are given the most unexpected surprise in discovering the identity of the queen.

This imaginative picture book explores themes of overcoming one’s fears, being curious about the unknown, and being brave enough to keep going through life. Although Franca recruits her sisters in the beginning of the quest to travel with her, she learns that it’s okay to drift apart from the people and activities she once enjoyed, indicating the transition from childhood to adulthood. The illustrations and tone of the story also exhibit the shift, starting with a lighthearted tone and clean portrayal of the sisters and moving to a heavier tone and a darker color scheme focused on Franca. The fantastical illustration of the forest and the creatures fill each page with hidden objects that catch the attention of any reader and make them want to look again to see new objects that one might have missed. The fairytale-like tone of this picture book for older children, emphasizes the reality of growing up and learning to embrace your individuality, couched within a whimsical adventure. 

 

Butler Bookshelf

This week’s Butler Bookshelf features recently released and coming soon titles! Once Upon Another Time is the beginning of the storybook character mixing trilogy of middle-grade novels by James Riley. Follow Jin, a young genie, and Lena, the kid of giants, as they try to stop the machinations of the Golden King! Check it out along with the other titles below!

How to Build a Human In Seven Evolutionary Steps
Written by Pamela S. Turner and Illustrated by John Gurche
Published by Charlesbridge
Available April 12th!

Once Upon Another Time
Written by James Riley
Published by Aladdin
Available today!

Planting a Garden in Room 6
Written by Caroline Arnold
Published by Charlesbridge
Available now!

Powwow Day
Written by Traci Sorell and Illustrated by Madelyn Goodnight
Published by Charlesbridge
Available now!

She Gets the Girl
Written by Rachael Lippincott and Alyson Derrick
Published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Available today!

Smitten with Kittens
Written by Florence Minor and Illustrated by Wendell Minor
Published by Charlesbridge
Available now!

Butler Bookshelf

This week’s Butler Bookshelf features recently released and coming soon titles! In Some Questions about Trees by Toni Yuly, an inquisitive child asks about the trees they see on their simply illustrated adventure. Check it out along with the other titles below!

Bristlecone: The Secret Life of the World’s Oldest Tree
Written by Alexander Siy and Illustrated by Marlo Garnsworthy
Published by Web of Life Children’s Books
Available June 19th, 2022!

The Fairy Garden
Written by Georgia Buckthorn and Illustrated by Isabella Mazzanti
Published by Ivy Kids
Available April 5th, 2022!

Little People, Big Dreams: Florence Nightingale
Written by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara and Illustrated by Kelsey Garrity-Riley
Published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Available now!

Make This Book Wild
Written by Jo Schofield and Fiona Danks and Illustrated by Anna Ivanir
Published by Wide Eye
Available now!

My World in 100 Words: My Garden
Illustrated by Marijke Buurlage
Published by Happy Yak
Available now!

Some Questions About Trees
Written and Illustrated by Toni Yuly
Published by Atheneum Books For Young Readers
Available Today!

Sharing Nature Through Seasons: A Review of Emile and the Field

Emile and the Field 
Kevin Young 
Illustrated by Chioma Ebinama 
Make Me a World 
March 15, 2022 
Ages 4-8 

Young Emile loves the field close to his home, spending time alone in the field where he appreciates all the animals. He sees the field as a living being itself, thoughtfully wondering about things the field cannot experience that are far away from it, such as the sea. He also contemplates how the field changes during the seasons. He is upset that in the winter he must share his field with others who come to loudly play in the snow. When Emile shares this thought with his father, his father explains that no one owns the field and that sharing it ensures that it will continue to exist. The book closes with an illustration of Emile playing in the field with someone else in the spring. 

This is Young’s first book for children, though his experience with poetry and essays comes through in the lyrical writing style. The book is written in rhythmic verse, with many rhyming lines. The text on each page is sparse and appears in a variety of placements. This highlights the watercolor illustrations which bring the vibrant field to life through the usage of a wide color palette. The textured look of watercolor further brings the field to life. The initial textual description of Emile’s field even takes pause early on to allow for a full two-page illustration which depicts the lush field. The illustrations are key to storytelling as at the end of the book we see that Emile has learned to share the field only through illustration. This ending highlights the theme of thoughtfully enjoying nature while sharing it with others. The eye-catching illustrations and rhythmic writing make this book a great option for story time and new readers. 

Butler Bookshelf

This week’s Butler Bookshelf features recently released and coming soon titles! In Stella Keeps the Sun Up written by Clothilde Ewing and illustrated by Lynn Gaines, Stella schemes to keep the sun up so she never has a bedtime! She learns the benefits of sleeping and why going to bed is great. Check it out along with the other titles below!

Catalina Incognito
Written by Jennifer Torres and Illustrated by Gladys Jose
Published by Aladdin
Available now!

Darryl’s Dream
Written by Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, Shawnee, Johnny Warfield, and Adam Padilla. Illustrated by Tristan Tait
Published by King of Rock Publishing
Available now!

Emile and the Field
Written by Kevin Young and Illustrated by Choima Ebinama
Published by Make Me a World
Available April 15th!

Finn and the Subatomic Slip-and-Slide
Written by Micheal Buckley
Published by Delacorte Press
Available now!

Lady Icarus: Balloonomania and the Brief, Bold Life of Sophie Blanchard
Written by Deborah Noyes
Published by Random House Studio
Available now!

Stella Keeps the Sun Up
Written by Clothhilde Ewing and Illustrated by Lynn Gaines
Published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Availible now!

Empathy in Action: A Review of Our World is a Family: Our Community Can Change the World

Our World is a Family: Our Community Can Change the World
Miry Whitehall and Jennifer Jackson
Illustrated by Nomar Perez
March 8, 2022
Sourcebooks Explore
Ages 3+

We know that young children have lots of questions. Our World is a Family is a simple and sweet explanation of immigration for the youngest and most curious among us. Where might the new people in our neighborhood come from? Why and how do they leave their homes for new ones? Whitehall and Jackson gently explore these questions, and perhaps more importantly, the complex emotions involved in their answers. Vignettes of everyday activities provide examples of before and after homes, and how we can all make a community feel like a more inclusive and welcoming new home. Mini language lessons spread throughout the text provide examples of our similarities and differences. We all say “hello” and here is how—hello, ni hao, jambo, bonjour. And while a language note for each might have been helpful, the bright and joyful spreads are a delight. Superimposed over a map of the world, the diverse cast of children and adults is introduced as a vibrant and varied rainbow of humanity. Perez utilizes a combination of simplistic figures over a more structured and well-drafted backdrop, a juxtaposition that adds softness and humanity to the characters. An author’s note directs adult readers to a resource site to support honest and age-appropriate conversations about migrants and refugees.

A simple explanation for the universal truth that no matter where we come from, we all want to feel welcome where we are.

Bedtime Q&A: A Review of Goodnight, Butterfly

Goodnight, Butterfly 
Ross Burach 
Scholastic Press 
March 3, 2022 
Pre-k to 3rd grade 

In the third installment of Ross Burach’s Butterfly series, the titular Butterfly is awakened in the middle of the night by Porcupine as they are eating their breakfast. Initially, Butterfly is ecstatic at the new experience of being awake at night, learning about what it means to be nocturnal through word play and asking more questions than poor Porcupine can handle. The art shows this through an abundance of brightly colored images in Burach’s signature naïve style of mixed media art. However, as Butterfly tires, the fast pace of the early pages slows down significantly. The puns and traditional wordy jokes of the front half are replaced by sight gags, like Butterfly accidentally mistaking Porcupine for a pinecone. Questions from Butterfly peter out, even if Butterfly is still trying to make night time adventures for the pair to get into, and Porcupine is able to give some advice about falling to sleep. Burach shows the switch in tone using the color of the space between illustrations from a white to the more calm colors of lavender and indigo towards the end of the book. Burach’s use of framing and pace in service of comedy is impeccable. In early jokes, he uses cluttered dialogue and page turns to build tension while releasing it through punchlines. These are given room to breathe by the switch to a single, simpler composition for a spread. While the jokes are less set up later in the story, to aid in winding down, the page turns are still used to hide silly fun, like Butterfly using a book as a bed. In the last few pages, Butterfly finally decides to stop fighting sleep and Porcupine encourages them to think about calming ideas, teaching readers that if you want to go to sleep, it’s better to focus on calm ideas instead of questions you cannot answer. A colorful and funny addition to any bedtime book collection, just be careful, it might be too much fun to fall asleep to.

When Creativity Meets Office Supplies: A Review of Off-Limits

Off-Limits
by Helen Yoon
Candlewick
Available November 9, 2021
Ages 3-7

No “OFF-LIMITS” sign can stop a curious child from exploring the shadowy world of Daddy’s office and the excitement of discovering—oh joy!—office supplies. But what starts as an “I’m just looking” visit quickly escalates to an extravaganza of scotch tape and sticky notes. With delight that dances off the page, the child gets carried away with song, dance, and crafting galore until reality sets in—uh oh—and she sneaks back to her room only to discover that mischievousness and joyful abandon must run in the family. Yoon’s mixed media illustrations and color choices move deftly from the muted organization of Daddy’s office to the vibrant personality and exuberant creativity of a child lost in her imagination. Well-paced text and dramatic page turns add depth to this light and hilarious story, making it a brilliant choice for both storytimes and on-on-one reads. The child’s self-talk, both silly and insightful, follows her on the slippery slope from curiosity to joy to regret. And a last wordless page models forgiveness as parent and child sit down to a costumed tea party while wearing each other’s imaginative finery. Off-Limits is a love letter to office supplies and a celebration of indulging our curiosity and living in the moment.