Category: Plant Science (Page 1 of 9)

#Nonfiction Monday #kidlit: Becoming Beatrix and Theme Gardens

Our final book in the gardening series is the middle grade biography Becoming Beatrix: The Life of Beatrix Potter and the World of Peter Rabbit by Amy M. O’Quinn.

On September 4, 1893, a 27-year-old woman with thick brown hair and bright blue eyes penned a letter to a friend’s sick child. To cheer him up, she wrote a story and decorated it with pen and ink drawings of a family of rabbits. It was not unusual for her to do this; she was always writing letters to children that contained stories and drawings. What was special about this particular letter was several years later she would turn the story into her first book for children, The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Beatrix Potter went on to write more than 20 books. Many are still available and popular today, even though they were written over 100 years ago.

Author Amy M. O’Quinn reveals Beatrix Potter’s life from her early childhood in a privileged but highly-restricted household, to her later years as a farmer and conservationist. The journey of this beloved children’s book author and illustrator is fascinating, full of hardships and disappointments as well as successes.

Beatrix continued to write even after she could no longer see to draw. Her last book, Wag-by-wall  (illustrated by J.J. Lankes), was published after her death.

Becoming Beatrix  is smaller in size, 5.5 by 8.5 inches, which echoes Beatrix Potter’s own ideas about book size.

“She’d loved Anna Barbauld’s tiny child-sized book when she was young and was inspired to create something similar that would easily fit into small hands.”

The illustrations are mostly historical photographs, giving a sense of the times and places Beatrix lived. It also has design touches that celebrate Potter’s illustrations, including rabbits in the beginning of chapters and carrots between sections.

The back matter includes “Notes” to references, a bibliography and a very useful index.

Becoming Beatrix Potter is perfect  for young fans of Beatrix Potter and those interested in women’s history. The book would be wonderful to accompany a trip to Hill Top Farm. Get lost in a copy today!

Related Activity Suggestions

Why choose this title for gardening week? In her later years Beatrix Potter purchased Hill Top Farm and spent a great deal of time working on the gardens, which were also used as background for some of her books. You can get a glimpse of them here:

You can use Beatrix Potter’s most famous book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, for inspiration and grow your very own storybook theme garden.

A storybook garden celebrates the fruits and vegetables named in a favorite book. For The Tale of Peter Rabbit, you might choose to grow the vegetables that Peter ate, such as lettuces, french beans, radishes, and parsley. Or you might want to grow all the fruits and vegetables mentioned in book.

Planning

First, find a place to grow your garden. Consider whether the area gets at least six to eight hours of sunshine per day (vegetables need a lot of sun to grow properly) and whether it is close to a reliable source of water.

If you don’t have a plot of ground, don’t give up. Can you grow vegetables in  pots or containers? Many vegetables will grow in large pots on a patio or balcony if there is enough sunlight. If not, see if your town or city has a community garden where you can rent or share a garden plot.

Write down the fruits and vegetables you want to grow.

All the edible plants mentioned in the book:

  • Lettuces
  • French beans (green or string beans in the U.S.)
  • Radishes
  • Parsley
  • Cucumber
  • Cabbages
  • Potatoes
  • Gooseberry (old-fashioned fruit that grows on a bush)
  • Public domain image by Joanna Dubaj
  • Pea
  • Onions
  • Blackcurrant (Wikipedia article)
  • Camomile (Chamomile) for tea
  • Blackberry

Check to make sure the plants will grow where you live and what varieties are available. For example, you might not be able to grow blackcurrants where it is too warm.

Design a garden to fit the space based on what you learn. You may only be able to add one or two plants of a given vegetable if you are using pots or if your space is limited. Smaller is better if this is your first garden.

Prepare the soil
Gardeners have many different methods of preparing the soil and it will vary from place to place. Usually you will need to clear weeds and debris from the area you have chosen, then dig up and turn over the soil. Vegetables grow best in soil that contains some compost. Check with local gardening resources to find out what is recommended for your climate and soil type.

Planting
When it comes to planting a garden, timing is everything. Find out when the best time to plant is for your growing zone (USDA plant hardiness map). Some vegetables, such as peas, can withstand a bit of cold weather. Others, like tomatoes, are killed by a frost. Plan accordingly.

Taking Care of Your Garden
A vegetable garden will need tending throughout the growing season. You will need to learn about weeds and pull them out so you vegetables have plenty of room to grow. Make sure to water the plants as needed.

Will you have to worry about animals eating the vegetables, like Peter Rabbit did? Will you need to keep your dog from running through? Then you might need a fence like the one from the book.

Keep Notes
Keep records of what you do. Write regularly in a gardening journal and take photographs. That way you can remember what worked, what didn’t, what varieties grew well, etc.

Let us know how it goes!

We have a previous post with more ideas for theme gardens.

See our previous review of Amy M. O’Quinn‘s book Marie Curie for Kids: Her Life and Scientific Discoveries, with 21 Activities and Experiments.

 

Reading age ‏ : ‎ 8 – 12 years
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Chicago Review Press (March 22, 2022)
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1641604409
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1641604406

Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

 


Looking for more children’s nonfiction books? Try the Nonfiction Monday blog.

Planting a Garden in Room 6: #Kidlit for #NationalGardeningDay

April 14 was National Gardening Day, which reminded me of a perfect children’s book to celebrate it:  Planting a Garden in Room 6: From Seeds to Salad by Caroline Arnold.

Caroline Arnold has visited Mrs. Best’s kindergarten classroom before for this series (see our previous review of Carolyn Arnold’s Butterflies in Room 6  and Hatching Chicks in Room 6 was a winner of the Cybils Award for Elementary Nonfiction.)

This time:

The children in Room 6 are planting a vegetable garden.

Mrs. Best brings in some seeds and transplants. The children plant them in a raised bed garden outside their classroom. Caroline Arnold takes gorgeous photographs of the process, step by step.

Before long the plants have grown enough to be harvested and the children eat the results.

This  book is absolutely delightful. The series is called “Life Cycles in Room 6,” but the life cycle aspect is subtle. Arnold includes just the right amount of information to hold a young reader’s attention. Plus, seeing children in the photographs draws them right in.

There’s also a how-to aspect. Helpful tips for gardening are included as mini-sidebars overlaid on a cute watering can graphic.

Planting a Garden in Room 6 would be fantastic to accompany a gardening project, either at home or at school. It would be a great addition to a unit on plants, as well. Grow some young minds and pick up a copy today!

Related Activities:

Timid about gardening? Start with a pot of lettuce. Find a container that is at least 8 inches in diameter. Fill it with soil (potting soil works best for containers.) Buy some seeds and plant them as directed by the instructions on the package.

Place your container in a place that gets at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight, and water as needed.

If the seedlings seem crowded, you can carefully pull out a few to give the rest space to grow.

You should be able to start eating your lettuce in a few weeks.

Check our previous posts about:

  1. Planning a garden
  2. Ideas for theme gardens
  3. Butterfly gardening

See our growing list of books for gardening with children at Science Books for Kids.

 

Reading age ‏ : ‎ 3 – 7 years
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Charlesbridge (March 15, 2022)
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1623542405
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1623542405

 

Disclosure:  An electronic galley was provided by the publisher for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Moving Words #kidlit About Dandelions

Perfect to read for National Weed Appreciation Day (March 28) and then have on hand for National Poetry Month (April) is the gorgeous new picture book Moving Words About a Flower by K. C. Hayes and illustrated by Barbara Chotiner.

***

At its simplest, this book is about the life cycle of dandelions. Open the first pages, however, and you will be surprised and delighted.  It is filled with bright, bold shape –or also called concrete– poems. The words form images in many fun and creative ways.  For example, in this spread can you find lightning and rain?

 

After the rain, a dandelion grows in a crack in the sidewalk in the city.

When the dandelion plant is mature, its seeds fly out to the countryside, where we learn more about how dandelions grow and what happens to them.

The back matter has a lovely diagram of the life cycle of a dandelion, when it blooms, how the seeds fly, and their value as food.

Young readers will want to explore Moving Words About a Flower again and again. Use it to inspire lessons on life cycles, poems, and art.

Related Activities:

1. Why appreciate dandelions?

Dandelions can survive almost anywhere. Blowing on the white, puffy seed heads is a common childhood experience and almost everyone can identify a dandelion.

Although now treated as a weed in our culture, dandelions were once revered in the garden. Let’s explore some reasons to let these hardy plants grow once again.

 

 

1. You can eat dandelion greens. They are featured in the book Diet for a Changing Climate (previous post). You also make dandelions into tea.

2. They are associated with spring, but they flower through summer and fall.  Late-blooming dandelions are an important source of nectar for honeybees (previous post) and food for wildlife.

3. There’s growing evidence that dandelions improve the soil and make nutrients available to other plants.

Maine Organic Farmers has a list of 10 reasons to let them grow.

2. Write a shape poem.

Decorate your page with dandelion art and have fun!

 

Reading age ‏ : ‎ 3 – 7 years
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Charlesbridge (March 8, 2022)
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1623541654
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1623541651

 

 

Disclosure: Electronic galley was provided by the publisher for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

 


Looking for more children’s nonfiction books? Try the Nonfiction Monday blog.

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