The Peter Rabbit birthday party was a success.
During the scavenger hunt, only one kid panicked when I ran around the yard waving a rake yelling, “Stop! Thief!” and according to my daughter, “Everybody [else] was laughing because Mommy was being Mr. McGregor!”
There were games, dances, and songs. Subs, chips, and cupcakes. Presents of beads, balls and of course, books.
But I’m not going to write about those, yet, because…
Today, when the raindrops morphed into gigantic white snowflakes, we went downstairs, sat next to the trays of seeds sprouting under grow lights, and tried to read our way into spring.
My Garden, by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow Books, 2010) was my Aunt’s birthday gift to my daughter last year, and we’ve enjoyed this whimsical tale about a little girl, her mother and a garden every season since.
The book begins: “My mother has a garden. I’m her helper. I water. I weed. And I chase away the rabbits so that they don’t eat all the lettuce. It’s hard work, and my mother’s garden is very nice, but if I had a garden…”
A perfect parallel to us (mother and daughter) so far, even down the little girl’s bare feet. We love to squish garden mud in our toes, too.
Having set the premise, Henkes goes on to let the little girl explain what her garden would be like.
“There would be no weeds, and the flowers would keep blooming and never die…”
“And if you picked a flower, another one would grow right back in its place…”
“…the rabbits would be chocolate…”
“If I planted jelly bean, I’d grow a great big jelly bean bush…”
And… “Sometimes in my garden, good, unusual things would just pop up—buttons, and umbrellas and rusty old keys.”
For any little girl with an imagination, who spends her summers with dirt-filled fingernails, fresh, tangy tomato vine scented hands and leaky-hose soaked sleeves, this garden is a dream come true.
Or at least it is for me.
The final, sentimental scene is set in summer twilight. The fireflies flash and the little girl is planting a seashell (which on the very last page, takes root).
From the porch, where the warm house light glows, the girl’s mother calls out to ask what she is doing. The girl answers, “‘Oh, nothing….just working in the garden.””
The book is cozy and magical, and with Henkes’ unique pacing and rhythm it is beautiful to read at bedtime or snuggled under a blanket on the three-season porch on a cool spring morning.
I love My Garden not only because through my literacy coach lens I see that it gives my daughter an opportunity to make text-to-self connections (I do believe that she believes this book is about, her).
I also love this book because I know that Henke’s creative words and images will plant seeds of imaginative thinking in my daughter’s head.
I can’t wait to see what will grow.
Thanks to Niki and Jon for the gift of this book.