The Children's Book Compass

A New Kevin Henkes Book

Posted on: March 8, 2010

My Garden by Kevin Henkes.  (2010)  Greenwillow.  Pages not numbered.  Grade K-3.  Picture Book.

What child hasn’t imagined how she might do things differently from her parents?  In this glorious salute to the imagination, Kevin Henkes shows us a young girl who helps her mother garden – but if she had a garden things would be wildly different.  “…the flowers could change color just by my thinking about it—pink, blue, green, purple.  Even patterns.”  In her mother’s garden she has to “… chase away the rabbits so they don’t eat all the lettuce.”  In her garden “…  the rabbits would be chocolate and I would eat them.” Henkes carefully chooses his words so the girl’s dialogue sounds childlike.  “The tomatoes would be as big as beach balls, and the carrots would be invisible because I don’t like carrots.”  The design of the book heightens the pleasure of reading it.  Crisp white pages are the background for the text in blue font.  The illustrations are brightly colored watercolors with soft outlines done in ink showing the creativity of the child’s imagination as it blooms profusely in her garden.  Show the children Henkes’ books, Birds and A Good Day to further their appreciation of this talented author.

I recently read this book to a class of second graders.  They had a lively discussion after they enjoyed listening to the story about how they use their imaginations.  We created a story frame: In my _____________________, there would be __________________.  The children generated a word wall of possibilities.  Some were castle in the air, undersea garden and ocean.  The students got to work  enthusiastically writing their own versions and illustrating them.

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Pointing the Direction to New Books for Children and Teens

Marilyn Carpenter, PhD.

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