I was recently tagged by my dear friend, Renee Kurilla
, for this author/illustrator blog hop!
What are you working on right now?
I'm working on playing more while I wait for sketch revisions on a work project. I've been creating lots of new art for the past two years for my portfolio, but I'm never satisfied. Recently, I realized that I had stopped doing some of the things I love to do, like collage and smearing paint around a canvas. I returned to that for my recently completed Tomie dePaola Award contest
. Now I want more of this style in my portfolio, so it's back to the drawing board.
How does this differ from other works in this genre?
I'm exploring how I do collage. Lots of other artists are doing it, but I am working on my own unique voice. I strive to keep it as simple as possible.
Why do you write what you write?
I love drawing adorable animals. In my writing, I give them a home and a story. I love funny books that seem straightforward but are anything but. I like to throw in a little subversive twist. I'm currently writing a story for these two. I'm also participating in #PiBoIdMo and loving it. That's what got me started writing in the first place.
The hardest thing about writing, is, well, the writing! These pigs have an amazing story. They have too much story! What started as a simple idea took off in so many directions that I just had to step away to clear my head. I'm almost ready to try to rein them in again, but so far, they have resisted all of my efforts to contain them. They are irrepressible and unapologetic.
Now to spread the fun and tag some more lovely author/illustrators:
By popular request, they’re back! Every Wednesday, I shall be interviewing illustrators from the world of children’s literature, those you know well and also introducing you to pre-published future Caldecott potentials! Today’s guest is my go to pig-me-up on FB when I need a smile and a bit of whimsy to brighten my day. Welcome to Elizabeth Rose Stanton, whose debut picture book, HENNY, will be published next January by Simon & Schuster.
[JM Illustrator or author/illustrator?
[JM] What’s your nationality and which and how have certain cultures/regions influenced your work?
[ERS] I am “all” American. Multiple lines of my family go back to the early 1600s in North America, and I have a touch of Native American. It’s probably more accurate to say that my work has been influenced more by children’s literature, in general, than any specific culture or region. That said, I admire the work of many artists and illustrators, including: Beatrix Potter, Lisbeth Zwerger, John R. Neill, John Tenniel, Edward Gorey, James Thurber.
I could go on and on . . .
[JM] Tell us a little of your beginnings as an artist.
[ERS] I studied art history in college, and then went on to get a graduate degree in architecture. After I got married and had children, I decided to set aside my career as an architect to be a full-time parent. I began to work as an artist, as time permitted, when my youngest child started kindergarten. I did portraits, fine art (was represented by a gallery here in Seattle), some graphic design, and became a certified scientific illustrator. It is only recently, now that the nest is empty, that I have been able to dive full-time into writing and illustrating for children.
[JM] Do you have a preferred medium to work in?
[ERS] I work mostly with pencil and watercolor, and sometimes with pen and ink and/or colored pencils.
[JM] What does your workspace look like?
[ERS] It Usually looks messy! I have a cove in the basement lined on one side with bookshelves, and a desk at the end. I call it “The Trench.”
[JM] Can you share a piece or two with us, maybe of a WIP, and the process of creating them?
[ERS] My process varies a little, depending on where the final image(s) end up. For my books, I work completely on paper. HENNY was rendered in pencil and watercolor, and the final art was packed up and physically sent to Simon & Schuster in New York. For posting on-line (such as my Facebook “daily” sketches or for blog posts), I always begin with pencil/paint on paper, scan it, then often do some touch up. I have a very old graphics program that I use that is quite adequate for what I usually need to do—cleaning up stray lines or enhancing color here and there. But the short of it is, I prefer to work old-school.
Begins with a simple pencil sketch
Then I begin to paint, using a variety of watercolor, and sometimes gouache.
I go back and forth with color and pencil until I feel the picture is balanced
Then, in this case, I scan it in, clean it up a little, and send it on its way.
[JM] I know you have your debut picture book coming out in January of 2014. Can you tell us a little about the inspiration and development of HENNY?
[ERS] Most of my ideas pop out spontaneously by way of the characters. A couple of years ago, I drew a fanciful bird with arms. He morphed into a chicken. Then I started to think about all the challenges, and fun, a little chicken with arms might have, and Henny’s story unfolded from there.
Jacket cover for HENNY (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books)
[JM] What’s with all the pigs?
[ERS] The book I’m working on now is about a pig.
[JM] How do you approach the marketing/business side of the picture book world?
[ERS] Having a fabulous agent, Joanna Volpe of New Leaf Literary & Media, helps. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to represent me. She is helpful, responsive, and she really knows the business. I also have the benefit of the expertise of the talented team at Paula Wiseman Books. Meanwhile, I’ve been working to build up my social network platform. I try and keep my blog current, as well as post sketches and little paintings on Facebook as frequently as I can. I use Twitter occasionally, too. Specifically for HENNY, I will be having the book launch here in Seattle the first week of January, and will then be working hard to make the rounds, so to speak, singing her praises!
[JM] What has been your greatest professional challenge?
[ERS] Staying focused. I always want to do other things (I have a pretty long bucket list).
Five Fun Ones to Finish?
[JM] What word best sums you up?
[JM] If you could live anywhere for a season, where would you go?
[ERS] Paris–because I’ve never been.
[JM] What’s your go-to snack or drink to keep the creative juices flowing?
[ERS] Strong tea and the darkest of dark chocolate.
[JM] Cats or dogs?
[ERS] Both! I have an ancient one-eyed dog and two Scottish Fold cats.
[JM] If you could spend a day with one children’s book illustrator, with whom would that be?
[ERS] Current: Lisbeth Zwerger Past: Beatrix Potter
[JM] Where can we find/follow you and your work, Elizabeth?
[ERS] Thank you for the interview, Joanna! It’s been fun!
[JM] Thank YOU for being on Miss Marple’s Musings, Beth. To your continued success. I am looking forward to seeing HENNY when she comes out!
March 1st is quite the celebratory day as Little Known Holidays go - and in 2013, there are eight of them (that I know of at this time). Every one looks like a ton of fun, but with only so many hours in a day and only so much space in a blog post, let's split the difference and choose exactly half, and celebrate accordingly.
Let's start things off with National Pig Day. Created in 1972 by two sisters - Ellen Stanley and Mary Lynne Rave - the purpose of the day is "to accord the pig its rightful, though generally unrecognized, place as one of man's most intellectual and domesticated animals."
Next on the list is Peanut Butter Lover's Day. And Share a Smile Day. Not sure what the backstory is on either one of these, but the porcine fellow below sees no reason why he shouldn't celebrate both - from ear to ear and elbow deep:
Last, but most certainly not least, March 1st is the day chosen by the National Education Association to observe 2013's Read Across America Day. (The official date for Read Across America Day is March 2nd - the birthdate of the late Theodor S. Geisel, otherwise known as Dr. Seuss.)Well. Not wanting to be outdone by a multitasking pig (clever though he may be), I thought it would be fun for us to celebrate not just two, but three of March 1st's holidays, all at once:
Books for Young People
Why not all four? Um, well, I think we have to draw the line at mixing books and peanut butter in the same celebration. That just does not end well. (The last time I tried, I ended up with peanut butter on the cover of one of my favorite books. And do you know, a little bit of that peanut butter is still there? True story!)But enough about my peanut-buttery past. Let's get to those books. Below, you'll find five pig-populated books that I've very much enjoyed reading and/or sharing with my kids over the years. For each one, I've listed the title, author and illustrator, reading level, and the book's Piggy Connection. If I've reviewed or posted in some way about the book, the title will be a clickable link that takes you directly to that post.Pete & PicklesWritten and Illustrated by Berkeley BreathedAges 4-8 Piggy Connection: Pete is a very orderly pig, whose orderly life takes a sudden disorderly turn.Arthur, For the Very First TimeWritten by Patricia MacLachlanIllustrated by Lloyd BloomAges 9-12 Piggy Connection: Bernadette, Uncle Wrisby's beloved pet pig, will soon give birth to a litter of wiggly piglets. And when she needs some help, it comes from a very unlikely source.Charlotte's WebWritten by E.B. WhiteIllustrated by Garth WilliamsAges 6-11
Piggy Connection: Wilbur the pig is the runt of the litter, destined for a very short life, indeed. But then Fern the farm girl steps in to save him, and Charlotte the spider helps him find his way in this world.PiggiesWritten by Audrey Wood and Don WoodIllustrated by Don WoodAges 5 and up Piggy Connection: Fingers and toes. Who knew these "piggies" could be so much fun?The Three PigsWritten and Illustrated by David WiesnerAges 4 and upPiggy Connection: The classic tale of the Three Little Pigs gets a not-so-classic retelling. Because this time, the pigs are taking charge of their story.
* * *
And that concludes our little celebration. But the fun doesn't have to end here. Go on, enjoy March 1st in your own creative way, in all its piggy, peanut-buttery, smiley, book-filled glory. (But remember, you might want keep the peanut-buttery parts separate from the book-filled parts...)
The family of Animal Helpers is growing. The second installment Animal Helpers: Sanctuaries is due to hit bookstores later this month, and once again author Jennifer Keats Curtis introduces us to passionate animal caretakers at five sanctuaries.
Sanctuary One is a care farm, which is a working farm that brings people, animals and nature together in a unique therapeutic environment. One special resident is Lisa the pig, at 700 pounds Lisa’s former owners were unable to continue to care for her. She is now a permanent resident a Sanctuary One, and just in time for Valentine’s Day you can watch this love story unfold below.
Caring for Lisa and all the other animals at Sanctuary One is very costly; they will be selling Animal Helpers: Sanctuaries as a fundraiser. Please visit their website to learn more about Sanctuary One.
I am in the midst of transferring from one branch to another, and I now have two desks overflowing with great new books! Here are a few:Gibbs, Edward. 2011. I Spy with my Little Eye. Somerville, MA: Templar. (Candlewick)
That big (almost 2.5"), yellow, circular eye on the cover is actually a hole - an oh, the things we can spy through that hole! On a predominantly white spread with an eye on the left page and a circle of blue on the right, we read,
I spy with my little eye ... something that is blue. "I am the biggest animal in the world."
Turn the page to find a richly colored blue whale, which due to some artfully placed curlicues, manages to appear realistic and at the same time, fanciful.
I'm a BLUE WHALE.
Each featured animal unfolds in the same manner. The rear cover of the book features a hole for your own little eye to go spying! Colors, animals, guessing - this book has it all!
Edward Gibbs is listed as a "debut artist." What a debut! This one's dynamite!Tusa, Tricia. 2011. Follow Me. Boston: Harcourt.
From the book jacket, here is the description of the art,
The illustrations in this book were done using an etching process with monoprinted color. The text type was set in Prin. The display type was set in Rats and Carrotflower.
(Rats and Carrotflower? - love that one!) What this means to me is a softly-colored book with fanciful drawings outlined in etched brown lines. The color sometimes spills out of its intended (?) perimeter in much the same way that the young protagonist spills out of her swing and floats and flies through the breezes, "lost in small, green, happy music." She invites the reader to follow her through all of nature's colors, "deep into brown, into the bright white of yellow, into orange that slips into red." From the illustrator of In a Blue Room
, another beautiful book!Johnson, Lindsay Lee. 2011. Ten Moonstruck Piglets. Ill. by Carll Cneut. Boston: Clarion.
All in a scramble,
all ready to gambol,
ten moonstruck piglets
on a midnight ramble.
Through the mud wallow,
beyond the wide hollow,
in turns lead and follow.
It's all fun and games until the moon goes behind a cloud! But not to worry - Mama's coming. These sleepy-eyed, wrinkly little runts are irresistible!
Where Ten Little Piglets
is filled with amusing detail, this next book features uncomplicated simplicity ... (but in both books, you can count on mom to the rescue!)Read more »
On September 6th, Where the Wild Things Are author Maurice Sendak will release Bumble-Ardy. This picture book will be the first publication Sendak has written and illustrated completely on his own since Outside Over There (1981).
Writer Dave Eggers profiled the 83-year-old Sendak for a piece in Vanity Fair (Eggers wrote The Wild Things, a novel loosely based on Where the Wild Things Are). According to the article, Sendak has spent the last three decades illustrating books and designing operas.
Here’s more from the article: “Like all Sendakian rumpuses, it [Bumble-Ardy] gets out of hand, and for 10 pages we’re treated to the most bizarre tableau of celebrants, all in costume: pigs dressed as monsters, pigs dressed as cowboys and Indians, pigs dressed as old ladies painted garishly. As with any Sendak book, the pictures are full of references and echoes. One pig is reading a newspaper that says, WE READ BANNED BOOKS. A sheriff’s yellow badge calls back to the Warsaw Ghetto. Messages are written in Hebrew, Italian, Russian.” (via The Guardian)
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.
Pretty Princess Pig. Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple. Illustrated by Sam Williams. 2011. Simon & Schuster. (Little Simon). 24 pages.Pretty in pink is Princess Pig.Her trotters are tiny. Her snout is big.She loves to eat. She loves to dig.Pretty Princess Pig.
At the first pink light of dawn, she snorts one enormous yawn,then throws her flowered party dress on.Pretty Princess Pig.
At first, I hated it. I'll be honest. The first few pages, I was like this book is NOT for me. It's too pink, too glittery, too rhyming. But I kept reading. I looked past the pinky-pinkness of it. I looked past the princess nonsense, and what I discovered was that it is actually a funny story about a pig who keeps getting messier and messier and messier as she prepares for a gathering of her friends--tea, cookies, scones, crumpets, etc. The messier she got, the messier her home got, the more I liked her.
So while I wouldn't say this book is a new favorite. I ended up liking it more than I thought I would.
Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10
© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers
By: Paula Becker
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I forgot to post this illustration project that I did a-way back in the late winter for the June 2011 issue of Highlight’s High Five magazine. “Pigs Of Summer” was the title of a spread for an “action rhyme”. As always, it’s a pleasure (and blast!) to work with the art directors at Highlights, drawing all kinds of fun and interesting stuff to encourage kids to learn and grow.
Below: The rough sketches.
copyright Highlights For Children, 2011
Blog: The Children's Book Review
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Ages Four to Eight: Books for Pre-School Through Second Grade
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By: Sandie lee,
Jorge the Pinata maker is a fabulous artist - "Twelve circles to the left and three to the right. A dash of hope and a sprinkle of light..."
His newest creation is about to be brought to life. Set high upon the shelf with Miguel the Monkey and Cynthia the dog, Pancho the pig is finally finished. He's still a bit shy and not quite understanding what has happened, but soon the duo explain to him what being a Pinata is all about - being lifted up high at the fiesta and admired by all. However, when Duck comes back torn in two the trio soon learn the real horror behind the Pinata.Pinata by Ken Locsmandi and Sebastian A. Jones
is a fun, humorous and endearing tale. It's filled with surprises that not only have you cheering for the "doomed" pig, but also have you wanting him to fulfill his intended purpose. The illustrations by Tomo
are second to none - pay attention to the little mice on each page as they are funny and so entertaining - Tomo has also captured each character's facial expressions which really sets the tone for all the adventure.
In addition to one of the best children's books to hit the market, Pinata
also includes instructions to make your own pig Pinata and also a bio on each "helpful"
candy thieving mouse - my favourite is Yosh the charmer, dreamer and wishful thinker
- so clever!
If you haven't experienced Pinata
for yourself you need to grab a copy today - this would make a great Christmas present - Pinata
needs to be in your library and is sure to become a nightly read. If this isn't enough to convince you, 10 percent of all proceeds from Pinata
goes to Kids Need to Read.
I LOVED this book and am definitely going to make my own pig Pinata. Thanks Stranger Kids!
Check out Pinata
and all of Stranger Kids
books at; http://www.strangerkids.com/
Dicamillo, Kate. 2006. The Mercy Watson Collection: Volume 1. Read by Ron McLarty. Listening Library.
Last week, I was about ready to leave for work when I realized that I had nothing loaded on my mp3 player for the commute. (I have neglected to mention it here, but in January, I traded in my bicycle commute to return to my previous branch) In any case, I began frantically searching my library’s available downloads for something that would load quickly and keep me entertained during my drive to work.
My choice? Mercy Watson. Despite the book's irresistibly cute cover art, I’d never read a Mercy Watson book before. I thought it was about time. And anyway, how can you go wrong with Kate Dicamillo?
Answer: You can't.
Despite the loss of Chris Van Dusen’s charmingly funny artwork featured in the print version, Mercy Watson still "clicks" as an audiobook. Upbeat intro music sets the stage and Ron McLarty's narration is a perfect fit, with kind of a retro feel to it - as if you're listening to a favorite old story that you've heard a thousand times before. (It's hard to believe that he's also the voice of books by David Baldacci, Danielle Steel and Stephen King!)
However, the best thing about Mercy Watson to the Rescue (the first book in the series), is Mercy herself. She may be a pig, but she's an awful lot like most children - when sent to find help to rescue her parents, she quickly forgets her mission and goes instead, in search of buttered toast! And when chased by mean neighbor, Eugenia, Mercy waits until Eugenia's good and close before she starts running. After all, it's all about the chase, isn't it? Mercy is simply delightful. I'm sorry I waited so long to find her.
What else do I love about the book?
- that calling the fire department is the solution of choice when one's bed has collapsed (I'm rather partial to firefighters, having married one and all)
- that Mercy's parents adore her unconditionally
Here's an excerpt. Enjoy!
One thing I found particularly amusing is the choice of Eugenia as the name for the neighbor. When my chi
...storytime may be a bit more exciting than usual this evening...
By: Kim Sponaugle
Blog: Picture Book Illustration by Kim Sponaugle
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|Piggie Pie: Jr. detective- Hates taking a bath, his spots and tea time at 3|
|Hermoise Hen: Master detective - loves, luxury, solving barnyard mysteries and tea time at 3.|
|Penny Pac farm....|
From my sketchbook.
I feel like I'm sitting on a powder keg of possibility, but I can't find the match. I have so much art to create & not enough time. Back to work!
I'm working on adding to this story. These pigs are in for some adventure.
You can see a peak of the sketches here
. It feels so good to update my website
Everyone's out enjoying the summer, hitting the road to places far and wide. Me?
I'll be in the studio all summer, available for your illustration needs ;-)
You all know Becky Dreistadt’s work, don’t you? And you know how prolific she is with her amazing gouache paintings and painted comics?
Well, the folks at Rainn Wilson’s Soul Pancake made a time lapse of one of her recent paintings as she made it, and they were kind enough to slow the action down for us. That’s how time lapse works, right?
Is is okay for me to say that I was mesmerized and cursing out loud for the entire movie? No? I’ll keep that to myself then. Awesome work, Becky!
Timelapse Painting by Becky Dreistadt (Art Attack) (by soulpancake)
Young readers may already be familiar with Farmer Greenstalk and his farm thanks to Chickens to the Rescue, a 2006 picture book featuring a flock of poultry that responds every time there’s a crisis on the farm.
In the follow-up, Pigs to the Rescue (Henry Holt, 2010), the pigs respond to small farm disasters, but they’re a bit … over eager.
Here’s what Booklist had to say: “Eight excitable pigs mount overachieving rescue missions to cope with minor problems at the farm. Does the rooster have a sore throat? Pigs to the rescue! Eight pigs, perched on the barn roof, wake the farm at daybreak with oinks, squeals, and snorts. Emily broke her shoelace? Pigs to the rescue! The weirdly costumed swine lasso her and tie her up, mummy style. Written with a minimum of fuss and illustrated with comic delight, this picture book from the To the Rescue series offers plenty of laughs for the read-aloud crowd.”
Now, let’s see what Tyler has to say:
Today’s reviewer: Tyler
I like: Playing with my cars, going to Wisconsin to visit my cousins, eating ham-and-cheese sandwiches.
This book was about: Pigs coming to the rescue!
The best part was when: The cows came to the rescue at the end.
I laughed when: The pigs were carrying on in the pool. When the pigs tied up Emily.
I was worried when: The tractor broke and Farmer Greenstalk couldn’t plow his fields.
I was surprised that: The pigs were helping people and other animals.
This book taught me: About helping people.
Other kids reading this book should watch for: The silly noises the pigs make.
Three words that best describe this books are: “Funny.” “Colorful.” “Fast.”
My favorite line or phrase in the book is: “Pigs to the rescue!”
You should read this book because: It teaches people about helping.
To learn more about author and illustrator John Himmelman, visit his website. You also can listen to an interview with him on Just One More Book.
If you’d like to see other blog reviews of Pigs to the Rescue, visit:
So Mikey Cunningham of The Hours fame was judging the NPR 3-Minute Fiction contest a couple months back. The rules were simple. Start a story with the line, “Some people swore that the house was haunted,” and end it with the line, “Nothing was ever the same again after that.” Don’t exceed 600 words and if you win, your entry will be read aloud the FM radio! Like Little Orphan Annie!
I entered a subtle little tale of teenage machismo and abandoned farmhouses. And guess what? Mikey didn’t like it. I lost. Actually, I’ll give myself some credit. I’m pretty sure I just missed the cut of the top 25 runners-up. That fact isn’t exactly confirmed by Carl Kasell, but I’m going to operate under the notion. And if 27th is good enough for the Maldives, then it’s good enough for me.
I thought of tucking the story away in a drawer and pulling it out on rainy Sundays to provide myself with a good windowsill weep, because what else am I gonna do, send it to the Paris Review? Postage to France is expensive! Then I remembered I have a blog and so I might as well share it in the style that is popular with the youth of today. That is, blogically (check Urban Dictionary for me, cause that’s gotta be something the kids say). So here you go. A very short story.
Oh yeah, and after reading it, read this real life tale that was uncovered a few weeks after my fictional one hit the bottom of Ira Glass’s trash can. Disturbing and creepy to say the least.
Some people swore that the house was haunted. Mark thought haunted wouldn’t fly. Poltergeists were subtle, and the time for subtle had passed. We needed raving. Bleeding. A sweaty lunatic with a painty maul.
Kelly had a girl’s name, but he insisted that back when men were men, they were called Kelly. Lesley. Marion.
“Sue?” asked Mark.
“Sure. Song about it, isn’t there?”
I drove. Always. Hand on the tuner. In search of night music. Not dark exactly, but something that stalked.
“This works,” Mark said.
“Whatever.” Kelly rolled down the window and I could smell the stuff they sprayed to kill mosquitoes. It was a summer of puddles, the summer that was supposed to matter.
We pulled up, noticed that Byron’s place had nylon siding and a sofa on the porch.
“Making crystal in the bathtub, I bet.”
I shook my head, but Mark probably wasn’t far off. I poked the horn, just enough to announce our presence.
Byron was out immediately, screen door snapping behind him. Kelly ducked down to hide his face and I motioned to the back seat.
We’d gone about half a mile when Byron acknowledged it was Kelly sitting shotgun. “Not hittin’ that party, are we?”
“Bingo.” Mark was e
Another gem from the awesome animator, Nick Cross. Gorgeous animation gives way to nightmares, ending with poignant social commentary. Don’t watch it with your kids, but do watch it.
The Pig Farmer (by Nick Cross)
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A Garden for Pig by Kathryn K. Thurman, illustrated by Lindsay Ward
Pig lives on an apple farm where they grow lots and lots of apples. And what does Pig get to eat? Apples, apples, and more apples. Mrs. Pippins owns the farm and she makes all sorts of apple dishes for pig to eat, but he is sick of apples all the time. What he really wants to eat are vegetables! So Pig breaks into the vegetable patch and begins gulping down squash, seeds and all. When Mrs. Pippin finds him in the garden, she is not happy. She ties Pig up. When she catches him trying to break the rope, she shuts him in his pen. Though Pig tries to escape, he can’t. But he is determined not to eat any more apples! Pig notices the next day that his pen looks a lot like a garden. And after digesting the squash, he has the seeds he needs to make one.
Thurman’s words are simple and have a jaunty rhythm to them. There are wonderful sounds woven into the book that children will enjoy mimicking. Pig’s determination and tenacity as well as his creative solution to the problem add to the appeal.
Ward’s collage and cut paper illustrations have a warmth to them. This is accentuated by the use of fabrics that offer a texture to the images. In the apple orchard, there are words on the paper that make up the leaves: apple recipes. The illustrations are large enough to read to a group. And goodness knows, the poop event at the end will be a hit!
A friendly and warm introduction to gardening in an organic way, this book is a happy addition to gardening story times. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Kane Miller.