In a Garden (Hardcover)
“McCanna's superb scansion never misses...Like its subject: full of bustling life yet peaceful.” —Kirkus Reviews
Acclaimed author Tim McCanna celebrates gardens, nature, and all sorts of critters in this delightful and vibrant read-aloud picture book.
In the earth
a single seed
sits beside a millipede
worms and termites
dig and toil
moving through the garden soil
How does a garden grow? Follow along from seed to sprout to bud to flower as a garden blooms. Worms, ladybugs, millipedes, and more help a garden grow each season. Tim McCanna’s gorgeous, rhyming text, combined with Aimée Sicuro’s stunning illustrations make this charming picture book as informative as it is fun to read aloud.
Bonus backmatter features tons of cool facts about ecosystems and the symbiosis between plants and bugs.
About the Author
Tim McCanna is the author of Bitty Bot, Bitty Bot’s Big Beach Getaway, Dinosong, and Watersong, which was called a “joyful, gorgeous book” by Booklist. When he’s not writing books for children, Tim enjoys volunteering for SCBWI and taking trips to the beach. Tim has worked in advertising, written musicals, and played accordion in several bands before becoming a children’s book author. He lives in San Jose, California, with his wife and two kids. Visit him at TimMcCanna.com.
Aimée Sicuro is an illustrator, picture book maker, and surface pattern designer living in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and young son. She graduated from Columbus College of Art and Design with a BFA in illustration.
Life buzzes in a community garden. Surrounded by apartment buildings, this city garden gets plenty of human attention, but the book's stars are the plants and insects. The opening spread shows a black child in a striped shirt sitting in a top-story window; the nearby trees and garden below reveal the beginnings of greenery that signal springtime. From that high-up view, the garden looks quiet—but it's not. "Sleepy slugs / and garden snails / leave behind their silver trails. / Frantic teams of busy ants / scramble up the stems of plants"; and "In the earth / a single seed / sits beside a millipede. / Worms and termites / dig and toil / moving through the garden soil." Sicuro zooms in too, showing a robin taller than a half-page; later, close-ups foreground flowers, leaves, and bugs while people (children and adults, a multiracial group) are crucial but secondary, sometimes visible only as feet. Watercolor illustrations with ink and charcoal highlights create a soft, warm, horticulturally damp environment. Scale and perspective are more stylized than literal. McCanna's superb scansion never misses, incorporating lists of insects and plants ("Lacewings, gnats, / mosquitos, spiders, / dragonflies, and water striders / live among the cattail reeds, / lily pads, and waterweeds") with description ("Sunlight warms the morning air. / Dewdrops shimmer / here and there"). Readers see more than gardeners do, such as rabbits stealing carrots and lettuce from garden boxes.Like its subject: full of bustling life yet peaceful. (author's note) (Picture book. 3-6)
— Kirkus Reviews
Rhyming text walks viewers through a year in the life of a community garden in this celebration of the flora and fauna that inhabit it. Spring sees the arrival of birds and the digging of worms, and “Then at last/ a tiny shoot/ ever slowly/ forms a root.// First a seedling/ then a sprout/ pushing/ bursting/ up and out.” Tulips bloom in a riot of color as various insects busy themselves (“Earwigs scuttle./ Beetles scurry./ Roly-polies/ scoot and worry”) in and around the soil. Frogs and ladybugs take shelter during a rainfall, and a summer night brings out the fireflies, much to the delight of the garden’s kid visitors. Autumn comes “as a cool and gentle breeze/ whispers through the tops of trees,” and snow soon covers the ground, but the book comes full circle as “Time goes by/ and by/ and then . . . / life returns to start again.” McCanna’s text is smooth and its cadence lively, and it carries both a general awe at the wonders of nature and a specificity in its observations, listing off various types of flowers (“Daisy, foxglove,/ tulip, plum,/ daffodil,/ chrysanthemum”) and bugs (“Lacewings, gnats,/ mosquitoes, spiders,/ dragonflies, and water striders”). It’s Sicuro’s art that really makes the book blossom, though, with lush watercolor and charcoals bringing earthy textures and vibrant colors, and compositions moving deftly from close-ups on marching ants and lettuce beds to sweeping scenes of blowing leaves and hushed nightfall. An endnote provides a brief, accessible explanation of the workings of a garden, making this a seasonal sell to both budding poets and naturalists. KQG
“In a garden/ full of green/ many moments/ go unseen.” McCanna’s adroit rhyming celebration of a year in a garden conjures invisible dramas, from a single seed nestled beside a millipede sprouting into “newborn flowers” to the many creatures who live in the plants: “Earwigs scuttle./ Beetles scurry./ Roly-polies/ scoot and worry.” (Insect-loving readers will appreciate McCanna’s focus on arthropods alongside the flowers.) Sicuro’s painterly illustrations chronicle the seasons’ shift from the barely green branches of spring to the swirls of winter snow, and offer another subtle indication of the passage of time—a figure is shown pregnant, then with a baby. The vibrant panorama of reaching branches, unfurling leaves, bright blooms, helpful creatures, and growing children populate every page, conjured to life by Sicuro’s expressive brushstrokes. Supplemental material explains how gardens grow. Ages 4–8. (Feb.)
— Publishers Weekly