Jeff Stephens

Perhaps you have a green thumb and could grow watermelons in the desert. Or maybe you couldn't grow weeds alongside a country road. It doesn't really matter. If you have kids, Beth Richardson's Gardening with Children is a practical and fun book that will guide the novice and the experienced gardener in making gardening an enjoyable family experience.

Richardson, the mother of two boys, takes a realistic approach. She neither attempts to make children into miniature adult gardeners nor abdicates the garden to the kids. Rather, Richardson has adapted gardening practices for children for the purpose of creating an “adult-centered garden that included and celebrated children.” She writes, “I wanted to create a fabulous family garden, hoping my children would view gardening as a wondrous adventure and the garden as a playground and laboratory.” Think about what most kids love to do outside. Given the opportunity, they will usually get dirty and, if possible, wet. Gardening involves doing both of these things. It also encourages children to dream and use their imaginations, and provides a sense of responsibility and accomplishment.

The first section of Gardening with Children walks gardeners through the practical steps of planning, preparing, and planting a garden. The book contains easy-to-understand instructions and warnings, along with clear charts, diagrams, and pictures to illustrate the author's points. At the end of the book, Richardson includes a USDA Hardiness Zone Map to help gardeners select what to plant, as well as a resource list for further assistance.

The second section suggests ways to make gardening fun for children. For example, there's the pizza garden, which is not only used to grow many of the ingredients needed to make pizza, but which is also planted in the shape of a pizza. Several recipes using items from the garden are provided, as are ideas for family projects such as making a scarecrow.

As a parent and a corporate attorney, Richardson has a realistic understanding of what families can manage and what they will enjoy. In this book for parents and other caregivers, she also seems to know that getting dirty together in the garden grows lots more than summer vegetables.

Review by Jeff Stephens.

Perhaps you have a green thumb and could grow watermelons in the desert. Or maybe you couldn't grow weeds alongside a country road. It doesn't really matter. If you have kids, Beth Richardson's Gardening with Children is a practical and fun book that will guide the novice and the experienced gardener in making gardening an […]

If you've ever been to a professional baseball game, you know a baseball player has got to know how to spit! That's just one of the things that Paul B. Janeczko describes in his poems in That Sweet Diamond: Baseball Poems, illustrated by Carol Katchen. You'll find yourself laughing and thinking, Yeah, I've seen that! And the next time you go to a game, you'll know what to do during a rain delay! Janeczko captures the experience of being there in a book children of different ages will like for different reasons. Although the metaphors may escape younger readers, they will enjoy the illustrations that look as if they were drawn with chalk. Older children will appreciate the humor, symbolism, and wide range of subjects found in Janeczko's poetry. Reviewed by Jeff Stephens.

If you've ever been to a professional baseball game, you know a baseball player has got to know how to spit! That's just one of the things that Paul B. Janeczko describes in his poems in That Sweet Diamond: Baseball Poems, illustrated by Carol Katchen. You'll find yourself laughing and thinking, Yeah, I've seen that! […]

Does it really matter if you call it a violin or a fiddle? It does to Reginald, a young violinist, who somewhat reluctantly becomes a batboy for the Dukes, “the worst team in the Negro National League.” In The Bat Boy and His Violin, Gavin Curtis tells a clever and tender story of the relationship between a father, who is a member of the team, and his son. Set against the backdrop of baseball in 1948, the sometimes touching, sometimes humorous story will appeal to children regardless of their age or interest in sports. Curtis's careful use of language, “I sashay my bow across the violin strings the way a mosquito skims a summer pond,” combined with E.B. Lewis's detailed and realistic illustrations spark the imagination. Reviewed by Jeff Stephens.

Does it really matter if you call it a violin or a fiddle? It does to Reginald, a young violinist, who somewhat reluctantly becomes a batboy for the Dukes, “the worst team in the Negro National League.” In The Bat Boy and His Violin, Gavin Curtis tells a clever and tender story of the relationship […]

Take Me out to the Bat and Ball Factory, written by Peggy Thomson and illustrated by Gloria Kamen, is for the child who could give curiosity lessons to a cat. In this book, Thomson answers more questions than most adults (but not their kids) would think to ask about the crafting of bats and balls.

Along with factual information describing the production process, Thomson includes sections on hitters, pitchers, and a short history of baseball. Gloria Kamen's colorful illustrations are based on a visit to the Worth factory in Tennessee to see the various processes in making bats and balls for kids. Reviewed by Jeff Stephens.

Take Me out to the Bat and Ball Factory, written by Peggy Thomson and illustrated by Gloria Kamen, is for the child who could give curiosity lessons to a cat. In this book, Thomson answers more questions than most adults (but not their kids) would think to ask about the crafting of bats and balls. […]

As sure as flowers bloom in spring, baseball fever strikes Americans young and old when the weather warms. Every sunny afternoon at a grassy lot in my neighborhood, cars line the street and parents visit while their eight- to 12-year-olds get out their bats, balls, and gloves and play ball. Here are some good new baseball books that will give kids even more baseball fun.

With remarkably few strokes of his pen, Elisha Cooper's sketches and brief descriptions in Ballpark convey the essence of baseball. The simplicity of his illustrations and the creative placement of words on the page make this tour of a day at the ballpark a visual experience sure to be enjoyed by children of various ages and reading abilities. Cooper's purposefully vague drawings encourage readers to fill in details in their own minds and identify with the game the people could be anybody; they could be you! At the same time, the few words used reveal insights that create new interest. Cooper cobbles together isolated bits and pieces to create a coherent and engrossing account.
 

As sure as flowers bloom in spring, baseball fever strikes Americans young and old when the weather warms. Every sunny afternoon at a grassy lot in my neighborhood, cars line the street and parents visit while their eight- to 12-year-olds get out their bats, balls, and gloves and play ball. Here are some good new […]

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