Tuesday, March 3, 2009

"I Heard It From Alice Zucchini"

Today I am foregoing my usual ABC Wednesday post to join another group for this week--a book review collection hosted by Barrie Summy each month. (Technically, I guess this might qualify for this week's ABC letter G since I'm writing about a gardening book, but that might get a little confusing.) When I posted a review last month about a delightful book I had just finished, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, Sarah Lawrence commented that I might want to join Barrie for her new monthly "meeting" of book reviewers. Sarah frequently reviews books on her posts, reviews accompanied by gorgeous photos that always seem to illustrate the novel's plot and themes perfectly. A book club meeting each month--one that I don't have to dress up for or have to read a prescribed book--sounded like an ideal opportunity to me.

This past month has been extremely busy for me, with my grandchildren here for awhile, my father's hospitalization, and more than my usual days of substitute teaching. I'm currently reading Elizabeth George's Careless in Red, which I mentioned in the earlier review, but I can't very well review a book I haven't finished, can I? So my contribution this month is a book that doesn't take long to read at all, but one that can be read and enjoyed over and over again.

While searching for a gardening book online one day, I came across a children's book entitled I Heard it from Alice Zucchini. Now with a title like that, wouldn't you be intrigued? I certainly was and, after reading some reviews of it, decided to purchase it to share with my grandchildren.

I Heard it from Alice Zucchini is subtitled Poems about the Garden and is just that--a delightful collection of children's poems related to the garden. The poems range from the humorous, like "Garden Gossip," from which the title comes, to the fanciful fairy tale-like story of "Sweet Cicely and the Bee." There is even a "Garden Lullaby" with soothing images perfect for a bedtime reading. My favorite is probably "Blue Moon Over the Garden," which is full of appealing imagery:

". . . Sleeping vegetables wake and yawn.
It's June and the night of the second moon.
Crickets tune their violins in anticipation.
Tomatoes bounce down pole-bean twine.
Cucumbers tumble in green clown suits.
A choir of celery burst into song . . ."

When I ordered the book, I was expecting a collection of humorous poems, ala Shel Silverstein, but the poems are not all humorous, and the author, Juanita Havill, has her own unique style. There are no alien-looking kohlrabi (like those from my garden to the right), but there are chanting pea pods, dancing dill weeds, and a "Rhubarb Forest." Children will enjoy the rhyme and rhythm, especially the catchy tune of "Vegetable Stew."

The book is beautifully illustrated by Christine Davenier, and children will delight in finding the fairy who appears on every page. The author Juanita Havill has written more than thirty books for children and is decribed as "an avid gardener [who] readily confesses to talking with her plants--even with the weeds." I think all my gardening friends can relate to this!

I'm a firm believer in introducing children to poetry at a young age, and this book is an appealing way to develop an early appreciation of poetry. For my garden blogging friends, while this book may not fit on your reference shelf, it would make an excellent gift for a young grandchild, niece/nephew, or godchild. It might even encourage them to look in your garden for some "weedling seedlings" or "Princess Asparagus"!

And the best part is . . .

. . .This book has been kid-tested!


  1. Sounds like a winner for sure! I love the title, was intrigued just as you were. Will certainly look this one up on line and get it for my grandkids.
    Kid tested? Absolutely the best! Nice pic.
    Hope your dad is healing well. You certainly have had a busy time. Take care, my friend and try not to overdo (I know, I know, easier said than done).

  2. She looks like she is enjoying the book very much! How sweet! Love the title too. I'll keep my eye out for it for my young grandson.

  3. Rose, it sounds like a book I would have loved reading to my son and now my young nieces and nephews...The illustrations are charming~~and the fairy on each page would appeal to the imaginations of many children. An excellent review! Love your own illustrations! gail

  4. What a great review! Thanks for joining in!

  5. Rose, you are an early bloomer! I recognized the typewriter icon on Cosmo’s blog list, and I’m delighted to see that you’ve joined Barrie’s book review club. Mine is set to publish tomorrow morning at 7:30.

    Nice illustrations, and the sample poem was fun too. Your kohirabis are so strange. The last photo captures it all – how sweet. I hope your father is feeling better too.

  6. Thanks for sharing, dear Rose ... you've solved one of my Easter gift for grandboys! Have shared many Shel Silverstein laughs with kids & grandkids ... like you, implanting the rich gift of humor in soil makes flowers grow :)

  7. If this book is as delightful as your review I would love to have it. How could one resist Fairies and Poetry in the garden no less. Thanks Rose.

  8. I may just have to read this one to the kindergarten class this spring while we are growing our flowers for Mothers Day... Looks like a great one for sure... Thanks!!

  9. Wendy, It's a cute book, for sure. Dad is doing well, but at his age it takes longer to recover, which is a bit frustrating for him. I shouldn't complain about how busy I am; it's just that I'm no longer used to the hectic pace lately:)

    Tina, Granddaughter is in kindergarten and already quite the reader. She's very interested in my flowers, and I'm hoping to kindle her interest in gardening even more this year.

    Gail, The artwork in the book is really lovely; I thought the fairy was a cute touch that would catch the eye of kids.

    Barrie, Thanks for hosting this. I hope I can join in each month.

    Sarah, I had more free time today than tomorrow, so I posted early. I thought my kohlrabis were pretty strange-looking, too, and was reminded of them by a couple of the poems in the book. Dad is doing much better; thank you for asking.

    Joey, I found Shel Silverstein as an adult and love his poems. This book is a little more eclectic, but a great one for also making gardening sound fun:)

    Lisa, I liked the fairies, too! I hope it will inspire a few more little gardeners:)

    Lynn, I think these poems would be perfect for kindergarteners. How fun to plant flowers with them! I remember my kids at that age bringing home a marigold or zinnia they had planted from seed at school; they were so proud!

  10. Hi Rose, what a sweet book! Thanks for the review. . . I might have to get it to read. . . ahem, I mean to read with my grandson!

    Seems like a very nice book to add to the collection of a child or a child-at-heart!

  11. Dear Wendy.....what a delightful book...Poppi would love it, and may I confess I would to....
    The illustrations are beautiful....

    I agree re teaching children poetry....I taught my daughter poems by Browning, Keats and Wordsworth at a very early age....she does not like poetry too much now but remembers all those that I taught her....

    Thank you for sharing this lovely little book and that is definately on my 'to buy for Poppi list'....

    I do hope that there is some improvement with your Dad??

  12. first of all, I love your blog header pic!

    That sounds like a super book. And of course I had to look for the fairy in the illustration!

    Hope your dad continues to improve and well done to him on a positive outlook and approach.

  13. You're right. That is definitely an enticing title. Too, what a clever concept -- I'd never have thought of poems for vegetables!

  14. Rose, what a charming book. That would make a nice gift for my niece. I enjoyed the poem. Thank you for the recommendation.

  15. Sounds like a good book and she is really enjoying it from the photo. ;)

  16. That sounds like a lovely book Rose. The illustrations look great! Hope all is well and your dad is doing better.

  17. Gardening and poetry - such talent! What a wonderful thing to introduce to kids.

  18. Love your change of header. What a lovely surprise!

    The book sounds lovely. I read some great poems to my lads when they were young and we all had a few favourites, but they don't read any poetry now that they are grown up. It's just not 'cool'!

  19. Linda, I think I enjoyed the poems as much as my granddaughter:)

    Cheryl, You have mentioned a few of my favorite poets. I doubt that a lot of people just sit down and read poetry now. Poetry requires time to think and reflect; it's best in small doses:) Dad is doing much better, thank you.

    Liz, The header is wishful thinking--it's one of my crabapples in bloom last spring. I'm thinking positive:) Yes, Dad is doing well and slowly regaining some strength.

    D.A., I was hooked by the title, too!

    Marnie, I thought this book would appeal to gardeners--nothing like starting the little ones early!

    Racquel, Granddaughter loves to read, but I think she was posing for me a bit, too:)

    Susie, Thank you; yes, things have finally calmed down here somewhat. I loved the illustrations in this book.

    Kathy, Thank you--start 'em young, I say:)

    Mean Mom, As I said to Liz, the header is wishful thinking:) I know that most guys at a certain age don't think poetry is cool, but little boys would enjoy most of these poems. Usually it was the girls in my classes who liked to write poetry--usually sappy love poems:)

  20. I meant to add--I love the cover.AND, like you, I like to intro kids to poetry early in life. Thanks again.

  21. It looks great Rose! Yes our children always got books. When they were very young, they got what we call Golden Books, which were beautifully illustrated. Your book reminds me of "The Country Dairy of an Edwardian Lady" by Edith Holden.

  22. Such beautiful illusttrations!

    I have just started the Gurnsey one you mentioned the other week and I'm enjoying it very much. I just hope I can finish it before my book club meeting next week! I guess if I turned off this PC.........

    S x

  23. Barrie, Yes, the illustrations are enough to entice young readers.

    Reader Wil, I read to all my children a lot, starting at a very young age. Now, except for youngest Daughter, they're all avid readers.

    Suburbia, Glad you're enjoying the Guernsey book! I've found blogging has taken up some of my reading time, too:) Hoping to get a new post up by tomorrow morning of our new "addition."

  24. Rose, this looks and sounds like a dlightful children's book. I love the title and the illistration. I will have to look for this one to read to the girls-or better yet have the older ones read it to the younger ones. You get a A+ for your book report!

    I took 4 of them to the bookstore last time they were here as a reward for helping me that weekend-they were in heaven picking out a book. But such a hard time picking only one. :}

  25. Hi Rose, that final recommendation is all the proof I need! I agree completely about exposing them young and often to poetry, and it doesn't need to be the heavy stuff either. Just falling in love with words will get them through life. I especially love the illustrations and can easily imagine a rhubarb forest, beautiful!

  26. Dear Rose,
    What a charmimg book. I too love to introduce children to poetry.
    Looks as if this one is a winner...
    I am keeping you and your Dad in my thoughts.

  27. Oh, I want this book! No grandkids yet, but I want it for myself!

  28. Beckie, It's wonderful that you took the girls to the bookstore; one of the best things we can pass on to our grandkids is to introduce them to the magical world of reading. I can just see them all trying to decide which one to pick:)

    Frances, "Falling in love with words"--well said. The "Rhubarb forest" is a bit violent:)

    Sherry, I like to read funny poems or Dr. Suess-like poems to them, so they see poetry can be fun. Thank you for your caring; I hope you have a good trip to see your daughter.

    Kylee, I had as much fun reading it as granddaughter:)

  29. I often enjoy reading kids books, too. And I put a hold on The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society at my library immediately after reading about it in your blog, and I'm still waiting (I'm now 5th of 61 holds!). Ah, well, I've learned patience as a gardener! :)


Thanks for stopping by. I love to hear from you, so please leave a comment. I'll try to reply here, but I'll definitely return the visit.