Most helpful positive review
95 of 98 people found the following review helpful
Bumped Animal, Vegetable, Miracle from my Top 3!
on April 14, 2011
I thoroughly enjoyed The Quarter-Acre Farm. I originally looked for it on Amazon because I saw a comment by the author, Spring Warren, on a Facebook post about the White House garden, where she mentioned her new book. Once I found it and saw several positive reviews, I decided to get my own copy. I had a horrible time deciding between buying the Kindle edition so I could have it RIGHT AWAY or the print version so I could see the illustrations other reviewers mentioned. I finally sprang for the print version and am glad to have done so - Spring Warren's storytelling is wonderful, but Jesse Pruet's pictures add a whole new level of fun and intrigue to the book.
As for my review title - Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is the standard I hold a lot of "homesteading" books to. That book taught me SO much about so many subjects that it's an excellent yardstick for me. Kingsolver's book is highly educational, makes me think, makes me feel involved due to her tone, and offers recipes that are approachable and "doable" for folks like me who aren't going to become pro chefs any time soon.
Warren's format in The Quarter-Acre Farm is similar to the format of Kingsolver's book; a chapter full of personal stories and interesting insights and research, along with a recipe to top off each chapter. How did Warren bump Kingsolver from my top 3? With her humor. While Kingsolver shares some fantastic stories, Warren's tone is more approachable and less professorial. Even her chapter titles bring fun to the read: "Pole Dancing" (which gave me a chuckle but then taught me very important things via her pumpkin trellis experiment) - "Magical Fruit" (yes, that would be the beans, of course!) - all sorts of things made me chuckle, smirk, and in some cases try to roar with laughter as quietly as possible so I wouldn't wake my sleeping children.
Spring Warren definitely shares plenty of insights from her own trials and triumphs in the garden that will be useful to me in my own garden; many authors in the gardening and homesteading arena do this. What she did that very few do is make everything educational AND fun to read. I highly recommend The Quarter-Acre Farm to anyone interested in gardening, whether on a hobby scale or for a full-scale local eating/self-sufficiency effort. I will be rereading this book and plan to have my children read it as one of our more non-traditional texts in our homeschool as well. I'm preparing now for the giggles from my 'tween daughter when we go over snail reproduction. (Trust me, it's worth a giggle - and who knew snails were that strong, too?) I suspect the story of her sister's hair dye venture will bring forth plenty of knowing nods from my kids as it did from me.
The reviews on the back of the book say it all. One author described reading this book as being like sitting down for a chat with a friend over coffee; I would thoroughly agree, but I expect I'd be asked to weed a bit as well. (Which made me laugh all the harder to myself, because I think Warren would convince me quite easily to do so!)
I'm not certain if the Kindle edition of this book includes the illustrations; I plan to find out in the near future by ordering it. If you want to be able to see those, I would highly recommend the print copy. But if you don't care about the pictures as much as just having a phenomenal read, get either version. Hopefully you'll learn as much and laugh as much as I did, and walk away hoping for more from Spring Warren and her garden.