I took a stroll over to the New Books shelf today to rustle up some inspiration for tomorrow’s storytime. Thankfully, the storytime gods smiled on me. There was a copy of Kevin Henkes’ new book My Garden sitting front and center on the shelf, so I eagerly snatched it up. And, lo and behold, a garden storytime was born!
Henkes’ newest is another in a growing list of pitch-perfect picture books written and illustrated by a master of children’s literature. Like Old Bear or A Good Day, My Garden is a simple story told largely through bright illustrations chock full of childhood whimsy. After helping her mother water and weed the family garden, a young girl describes her perfect garden, where the flowers would never die, planted jelly beans would grow into jelly bean bushes, and the “tomatoes would be as big as beach balls.” The text is exceptionally genuine; Henkes beautifully captures the daydreams of an imaginative young girl.
The genius of this picture book (and this is true for all of Henkes’ recent work) is the interplay of the sweet text with the lovely illustrations. The text on its own is wonderful, and the illustrations on their own are wonderful. Put the two together, though, and you have a truly extraordinary book. It’s equal parts contemplative, jubilant, and silly. For example, the girl shares her solution to a problem facing gardeners around the globe: rabbits. She shares, “In my garden, the rabbits wouldn’t eat the lettuce because the rabbits would be chocolate and I would eat them.” The accompanying illustration is as follows:
This absurd illustration is funny, but also evocative of the rich world of imagination that children should be playing in every day. Encourage your kids to flex their imagination muscles by sharing this book. They may have their own fastastic ideas for a garden filled with crazy creations. Tyrannosaurus trees? Pink, panda-headed petunias? A mashed potato patch? Who knows what earthly delights your kids will invent!
Hear this story (and other hilarious gardening hijinks) tomorrow at the Main Library. Gardening tales, gardening tunes, and of course a gardening craft. What better way to spend a rainy spring morning?