Tuesday, March 13, 2007

review: Young Gardener

More children's books for plant and garden lovers can be found here.

Young Gardener written and photographed by Stefan and Beverley Buczacki. Other Photographs by Anthea Sieveking. Illustrations by Peter Luback. Frances Lincoln, 2007 (978-1-84507-295-7) $19.95

Almost everything a young gardener could want to know can be found in this aptly named book, and as an added bonus, it's also attractively designed and easy to use. Thoughtfully broken down by season--and breaking even those down to Early, Mid and Late--each chapter includes sections on "What's going on in the garden?" (Late Spring: birds are feeding their babies, a good time to add food to feeders), "What's happening to the plants" (Early Summer: perennial plants are in flower, annuals are starting to appear, lawns need to be mowed and weeded), "What can I do in the garden?" (Early Autumn: store fruits and vegetables, dig up potatoes), and a garden-related craft project. Each seasonal chapter also includes a checklist of preparations for the upcoming season.

Full-color photographs of gardens and kid gardeners of all ages brighten just about every page of the book; the carefully detailed instructions for the activities are accompanied by lively pen & ink drawings, making them easy to follow. Pesticides are not mentioned and safety is always emphasized. Unfortunately, alternatives to pesticides aren't mentioned much either: the inevitable issue of how to deal with pests and diseases is conspicuous by its absence, and that may cause disappointment for readers who expect to easily replicate the gorgeous results displayed here.

Young Gardener also shares an issue with many gardening books for adults: it was originally published in Great Britain and some of the gardening terms are different. This isn't a serious problem, just something to be aware of when shopping; a glossary at the end is helpful. The plants suggested are common and easy to find in the U.S., and the crafts, such as making a bird table or pressed flower pictures, use familiar supplies (unlike many English gardening books for adults, which all seem to assume old sinks can be found lying around every corner.) Recipes are given in both metric and U.S. measurements, but children may need help converting centigrade to Fahrenheit.

Other than that, just about everything about Young Gardener is easy to use: I particularly appreciate how simple it makes the question of what-to-do-when, which I always found the most confusing aspect of gardening. Because it's so thick and juicy, it still might be intimidating for young readers who just want to dabble a bit in gardening, not fling themselves wholeheartedly into it. But for those ready for a fling, this will get them off to a great start. (6-12)

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Blogger MotherReader bligged...

I may have to get that for myself, much less my kids. We're not green thumbs in my humble home. More like recovering plant killers.

3/13/2007 3:29 PM  

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