friday feast: what’s in the garden? by marianne berkes and cris arbo

What could be better than a book brimming with delicious rhyming verse?

A book of taste-tempting riddle poems with gorgeous art, yummy recipes, food for thought, and gardening tips, of course!

In What’s in the Garden? (Dawn Publications, 2013), Marianne Berkes and Cris Arbo celebrate the joys of growing and eating twelve familiar fruits and veggies with a cast of adorable, happily-engaged multiethnic kids.

This delightfully fun, interactive feast is served up in a clever format: children are asked to guess which fruit or vegetable is described in each of the catchy four-line poems, then turn the page for the answer, where they’ll find an easy recipe featuring the produce to stimulate their appetites.

Delicious, nutritious, what could it be?
In spring there are blossoms all over the tree.
Red, green, or yellow, with fruit that is round.
If you don’t pick it, it plops to the ground.

The spreads containing the poems show the edible plant growing in a variety of garden settings teeming with birds, beetles, caterpillars, butterflies, rabbits and slugs. Some of the animals are pests, others pollinators — all are vividly brought to life in Arbo’s realistic, exquisitely detailed illustrations, where children can practically feel the sun’s warmth, hear the bees buzzing and birds singing, smell the apple blossoms and damp soil. I cannot think of a better way to foster a love for the planet than by showing kids the vital connection between the natural world and the food they eat.

You plant them in rows and each forms a head.
Or else you can grow the “leaf” kind instead.
It grows rather quickly in loose, moist soil,
And if there’s some frost, it won’t even spoil.

After correctly guessing the fruit or veggie, of course the ultimate reward lies in preparing and eating the food — who doesn’t love applesauce, carrot muffins, blueberry pie, mashed potatoes, a fresh green salad? Yum! Arbo’s pictures show the kids having fun watering plants, pulling up carrots, biting into corn-on-the-cob, hugging a pumpkin. More spaghetti with tomato sauce, please!

* * *

It’s round. It’s tiny. It grows on a bush.
When made into sauce, it turns to a mush.
This fabulous fruit can be used as a dye,
And is really yummy in muffins and pie.

(click to enlarge)

* * *

Just bite its long leaf — you’ll be able to tell
The bulb underneath has a very strong smell.
It makes people cry so it’s cut in great haste,
But added in cooking, enhances the taste!

(click to enlarge)

* * *

I love the back matter — rich resources beautifully presented, inviting and accessible, never boring or overwhelming. Included are facts about each of the fruits and veggies, cooking tips and terms, plant parts, the basics for planting your own vegetable garden, and a list of garden songs, books and websites for further reference. You can also find a fabulous list of free downloadable activities at the publisher’s website that includes lots of bookmarks, a challenge to make a salad using all six plant parts, and a chance to find and identify all the pests and pollinators in the book.

(click to enlarge)

Just released this Spring, and already the recipient of several notable awards, What’s in the Garden? contains just the right ingredients to help kids understand where their food comes from, while encouraging them to get busy outside in their home or school gardens as well as inside their kitchens, on the way to developing a lifelong, healthy habit of eating good, fresh fruits and veggies.

And now, since you insist, I’ll have another bowl of French Onion Soup!🙂

* * *

WHAT’S IN THE GARDEN?
written by Marianne Berkes
illustrated by Cris Arbo
published by Dawn Publications, 2013
Nonfiction Poetry Picture Book for ages 3-8, 32 pp.
Cool themes: science, nutrition, gardening, vegetables, fruits, cooking, poetry, diversity, nature, botany
*Available in hardcover and paperback, 25% off discount at publisher’s website

Click here to learn more about how Cris Arbo creates her amazing artwork.

* * *

♥ WORDSWORTH WINNER! ♥

Thanks for all the great comments and guesses last week in our Wordsworth! Stop the Bulldozer! Giveaway.

In Frances’s current draft of It’s in Your Pocket, Wordsworth!, Wordsworth actually has three things in his pocket: a shell, an old penny, and a black and gold fountain pen.

No one guessed a shell or a penny, but someone, the first commenter, guessed “a pen.” And guess who that smart someone is?

Tabatha Yeatts!

— Congratulations, Tabatha, you’re our winner! —

Please send your snail mail address to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com to receive your signed copy of Wordsworth! Stop the Bulldozer!

And thanks for playing, everyone!

* * *

poetryfriday180Speaking of the brilliant Tabatha, she’s our Poetry Friday host this week at The Opposite of Indifference. Take her some Ants on a Log, and check out the full menu of poetic goodness being shared in the blogosphere.

All natural peanut butter made from freshly ground Virginia peanuts made just for you by Mr. Cornelius. ♥

Happy Gardening and Happy Weekend!

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* Spreads from What’s in the Garden? posted by permission of the publisher, text copyright © 2013 Marianne Berkes, illustrations © 2013 Cris Arbo, published by Dawn Publications. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2013 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

39 thoughts on “friday feast: what’s in the garden? by marianne berkes and cris arbo

  1. Wonderful post, Jama. Those illustrations are exquisite! I look forward to reading this one. I’m afraid my gardening is terrible, but the kids have a plant growing, lets see if I can keep it alive😉

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  2. This is the perfect book for a group at school who garden. We have two volunteer mothers (actually their children are long gone from school) who lead the gardening group, spend all spring planting (and teaching) and all the autumn harvesting (and cooking). It looks delightful for everyone else, too, Jama. The illustrations are marvelous! Thank you for telling so much about it!

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  3. My nephews have started their own backyard garden, this summer, Jama – this is just the perfect book for them Thanks!

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    1. Excited to hear about your nephews! Yes, they’ll enjoy this book; hopefully they’ll make a recipe or two and share it with you.🙂

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  4. Jama, I really love the multi-ethnicity in this book and the riddle format. How fun! Maybe this will help some of the more picky eaters in the world warm to vegetables?? Maybe… xo

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    1. The diversity is definitely a big plus for me too. I think even picky eaters can be converted if they have a hand in growing and cooking their food🙂.

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    1. I hear you on the pie🙂. There are so many wonderful ways to extend one’s enjoyment of this book. You can’t beat homegrown produce during the summer.

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  5. Thanks for sharing, Jama! This is one yummy book. I love the way that gardening and food come together and young readers get a sense, in a playful way, of where their food comes from

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    1. Absolutely right! It’s easy to get the impression that all food comes in a box or a can, and not make that vital connection to the original source.

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  6. OMG what a great book–fun, accessible, nutritious, and delicious… and all of those great resources too! So important when our young kids being constantly being bombarded with junk food everywhere they look. This book is definitely going on my gift-giving list.

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  7. Wow – what a feast! Such a bright, inviting book – and I love the clever poems that draw the reader/viewer in along with those luscious illustrations. Would have loved a copy when my young’uns were young. Thanks for sharing!

    (Um, methinks those ants in your pic could carry away the whole picnic, table included…)

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  8. This looks like a fabulous book! What a great idea to help all kids see connections between gardens and the food they eat. Poetry, nutrition, multiculturalism and beautiful art all in one package! Thanks for sharing.

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