The Gardener by Sarah Stewart, Ill. by David Small

The Gardener by Sarah Stewart, Ill. by David Small


Publishing: Farrar, Straus, Giroux; New York; 1997

Awards: Caldecott Honor

Description: Lydia Grace goes to live with her uncle in the city to help him out when her parents don’t have employment due to the Great Depression. She makes friends with the man and woman that work in the bakery, and continues the gardening she does at home in window boxes and eventually in her “secret place”-the roof of the building. At the end of a year she has a magnificent garden and though she has still not managed to make her uncle smile, he makes her a cake and she knows that he appreciates the work she has done. After a year, her parents have found work again and she is allowed to go home. The story is told in letters from Lydia Grace to her family.

Programming: This is a great tie-in to the Great Depression Era. It is also a good moral about making use of what you have-in this case, space. Students might plant their own window box gardens or at least small plants.

One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo

One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo


Illustrated by David Small

Publishing: Dial Books for Young Readers, New York, 2012

Description: Elliot goes to the aquarium with his father, and through an error in communication, comes home with a live penguin. Elliot and the penguin Magellan find mischief that will have readers laughing out loud. The black and white line drawings interspersed with pops of softer color lend the story a whimsical feel. Speech, thought and noise bubbles around the text provide further visual interest.

Programming: There are a few things coming to mind on what could be done with this work. I watched a video for children’s literature last semester called “Antarctic Antics” that was developed from a book of poems. One Cool Friend could be followed with either the book or the video. I would love to see some sort of penguin craft where children get to make and name their own penguins.