Synopses & Reviews
In January, Lily receives a box of fresh oranges from her grandmother in California. In February, Lily sends her grandmother maple syrup from the trees on her family farm in Maine. And so the year goes on through the pages of this warmly illustrated picture book--a calendar of the months, seasons, and holidays seen through the lens of things planted and harvested in Lily's garden.
Publishers Weekly The opening spread of Ray's well-conceived picture book shows a winter scene and an empty house up the street from narrator Lily's, where her grandparents lived before they moved from Maine to California. Even though they will not be reunited until Christmas, the bond between Lily and her grandparents remains strong, thanks to their shared love of gardening. Ray traces their communications from January to December (one month per spread). As Lily describes the progress of her outdoor efforts, Grandma responds with tips and encouragement. In June, for instance, " `I always loved bunnies. Now, I know why Grandpa sometimes calls them pesky critters,' I told Grandma." The accompanying scene depicts Lily at the moment she discovers the remains of her lettuce, as the cotton-tailed thieves make their escape. Grandma advises, "Ask Mom to put camphor balls around your garden. The smell makes the bunnies stay away." Related sidebars on the left of each spread offer additional information about gardening and related topics: a recipe for blueberry pancakes for August and, for November, a brief history of harvest celebrations. Ray's realistic artwork portrays the way light changes from the fluorescence of winter to the orange glow that blankets the world in autumn. An accessible guide to gardening and a constructive way to cope with an absent loved one. Kirkus Reviews A composed and illuminating passage through a year of gardening on a Maine farm. . . . Rays art, expressive, informative, and filled with detail, is perfectly suited to the natural setting. Not least, Lilys enthusiasm is catching and may well provoke a few more seedlings to be incubated in late-winter windows. Booklist A typical spread includes a few short paragraphs of text, a double-page picture of Lily's seasonal activities, and a box with an illustrated feature such as instructions for making maple syrup from sap or a list of vegetables in Lily's garden. Ray's appealing illustrations, evidently pastel, use the broad horizontal spreads to good effect, creating a series of warm, engaging scenes of Lily and her family as they interact with the natural world. School Library Journal Kogan-Ray's soft pastel and colored-pencil drawings cheerfully depict the girl's gentle and bright world. Each spread includes a box with relevant information, such as how to make syrup, pumpkin lore, and recipes for blueberry pancakes and zucchini bread. Team this up with Donald Hall's Ox-Cart Man and Natalie Kinsey-Warnock's A Farm of Her Own for an engaging unit on New England farms, old and new.
About the Author
Deborah Kogan Ray's most recent book is Hokusai: The Man Who Painted a Mountain
. She lives in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania.