Friday, April 3, 2009

Jack's Garden

Yesterday a friend gave me a copy of Jack's Garden by author and illustrator Henry Cole. It's not a new book by any stretch of the imagination (1995) but its a timeless narrative with beautiful colored pencil illustrations. As a nod to the familiar rhyme "This is the House that Jack Built", we follow a little boy in the process of planting and enjoying a flower garden in his own backyard. As an elementary school science teacher, the author provides remarkably accurate, labeled drawings of all stages of plant development (from seeds to seedlings then flowers), soil, insects, birds, and even gardening tools. This is less an instructional guide and more of a beautiful story book. But its real value, I believe, is the way it makes understanding a little garden ecosystem effortless for young children. My five-year old daughter LOVES this book and was instantly inspired to go out to her own patch of dirt this afternoon and "get to work" (although it was only about 40 degrees here in Chicago today). All of my older children (ages 5, 4 and 3 years) enjoyed pointing out the plants and creatures they recognized and learning the new ones they didn't. This is a great gardening book for children ages 4 to 8. It would be a wonderful addition to any family library.

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