From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 1—An artful introduction to nature, stillness, and the power of observation. A wide-eyed boy enters a garden replete with fluttering butterflies, birds, and blooming trees, all rich with color. "I sit quietly. If I am very still, I see more." He also hears sounds: "chirp, squeak, crunch
." A robin eats red berries from a bush, a turtle munches moss, a lizard snaps up a moth, and so on. Animals small and large question motives as each one finds its meal: "The frog hopped up and caught a gnat. Why did you do that?
asked a fish. I was hungry
, said the frog, and I didn't want to eat you
." Learning by observing and listening to the creatures in turn, the boy finally gathers a meal of apples, berries, carrots, and more for a picnic with his friends-the myriad creatures. With spare words and a balance of line and color against white backgrounds framed with lacey branches, Aliki deftly portrays the benefits of observing nature. Back matter tells how to grow a "quiet" garden. This book is perfect for reading aloud: "The squirrel crunched on an acorn. Why did you do that?
asked the spider. Ah-wa-wan-gwy
, said the squirrel, crunching away."—Marian Creamer, Children's Literature Alive, Portland, OR
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“I love to go out in the garden,” says a young boy, who describes what he sees and hears when he sits still in his lush backyard. The quiet garden, it turns out, is teeming with life, and the boy imagines noisy conversations among the small animals he observes. After a robin nibbles berries on a bush, for example, a snail asks, “Why did you do that?” “I was hungry,” the robin replies. That question and answer becomes a rhythmic refrain, subtly introducing food-chain concepts in dialogue between pairs of animals. Finally, the boy realizes that he, too, is hungry, and after gathering vegetables and fruit, he shares a picnic with his animal friends. Young children will delight in the detailed pictures, rendered in watercolor, crayon, and ink, which contrast expansive aerial views of the garden with close-up scenes of the boy, surrounded by flowering plants and small companions. The words’ lulling repetition creates a subtle, meditative tone that reinforces the message: quiet observation can reveal an exciting, “anything-but-quiet” world. Preschool-Kindergarten. --Gillian Engberg