HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: This Year’s Garden
Author: Cynthia Rylant
Illustrator: Mary Szilagyi
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, republished in 1987
ISBN-13: 978-0027779707 (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 002777970X (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0689711220 (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0689711220 (Paperback)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 4 and up
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Rylant, Cynthia. This Year’s Garden (published in 1984 by Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books). If you were planting a garden, where would you go to find information on when to plant and harvest? Our forefathers always consulted the Old Farmer’s Almanac, but kids today can read This Year’s Garden. This colorful picture book follows the seasons of the year as reflected in the growth, life, and death of a garden. A pigtailed little girl tells how she and her large rural family, including their dogs, work in the garden through the seasons. A garden’s cycle takes an entire year. Winter is the time for planning, and spring for planting. After the long summer of waiting and weeding, the first vegetables are ready to eat. Then comes the fall harvest. The account moves along at a rather brisk pace, going through all four seasons and showing how the garden and the chores change throughout the year.
Publishers Weekly says, “Stunningly evocative, the paintings are a remarkable combination of deep tones and glittering shades. This is a lovely, unpretentious story.” We checked this book out of the library when our older son Mark was studying second grade science to accompany his lessons on the seasons. Even those like us who are not gardeners can appreciate the work that goes into planting, maintaining, and harvesting a garden. It is a great book to begin a discussion of the changing seasons, as well as a jumping off point for starting a garden with kids. Cynthia Rylant is the author of more than 100 books for young people, including Old Town in the Green Groves, historical fiction about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s days in Burr Oak, IA, which we read and enjoyed. Her novel Missing May received the Newbery Medal. I have not read it yet, though I have a copy of it, but, unfortunately, it does not come highly recommended.