Spring Means Gardening--Fruits, Vegetables & Cooking Farm Fresh!


Disclosure: I was sent copies of these books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Spring is in the air!! Up in New England the weather is slowly getting warmer--or at least more consistent. We have been having a roller coaster of temperatures this year. As spring starts up people start thinking about about gardening and fresh fruits and vegetables. Today I am sharing three picture books that focus on just that--gardening, fruits, vegetables and cooking with fresh garden harvests. All three books have an age range of 4 to 9. And all three books are being released today!! The first is I Love Strawberries! by Shannon Anderson and illustrated by Jaclyn Sinquett. 

From the Publisher:

Jolie LOVES strawberries - and she’s on an unstoppable (and hilarious) mission to grow her own food from seedling to table in this colorful introduction to the joy of growing the popular perennial.

Through Jolie’s comical scrapbook-style journal entries, young readers will learn how she convinces the “old people” (aka her parents) to let her grow her own strawberries. Growing strawberries is a lot of work and responsibility, but Jolie is ready with the help of her faithful rabbit Munchy! Together they find out just how delicious, rewarding, and sometimes complicated it can be to grow your own food.

Creating a garden calendar and notebook, how strawberries grow, what pests to look out for in a garden, why ladybugs are helpful, and how a good gardener takes care of strawberry plants are all explained in this fun and educational story. Informational backmatter includes tips on growing strawberries, an explanation of integrated pest management for greener, safer gardening - and even tips for how to find a pick your own strawberry patch near you.

This story makes a great read before a family trip to a strawberry patch, a garden store, or in a classroom talking about healthy eating and growing your own food.

From Me:

Oh, I do love strawberries. They are so much better when they are just picked than the ones you buy at a store. We have shared several posts about strawberries from our fruit exploration series to crafts and making jam or strawberry cake and more! Needless to say we love strawberries almost as much as Jolie. We have not grown our own, but we have picked the ones my father grew for my mother. Strawberries can be a lot of work. This book shares the story of Jolie who first has to convince her mother that she is old enough to take care of strawberries in a garden. She tries several different plans to do this and eventually convinces her parents to let her grow strawberries. Then she has to make money to buy the plants. It shares the hard work she goes through to take care of her plants. It even shares about the birds stealing them and the help of the lady bugs keeping the aphids away.

Jolie grows so many strawberries she has to figure out what to do with them all. It is a fun book. It ends with Jolie going blueberry picking with her mom. You can only imagine what will come next. At the end of the book there is information about planting strawberries for the first time, pest management and information about Pick-Your-Own farms. I love how the book goes into some of the biology of the strawberry plants as well. Then there are coloring pages and sample lesson to go with the book from Feeding Minds Press (the publisher). Now strawberries to me always mean late spring early summer and this book is perfect to get kids excited about them whether you are going to try growing them or just go pick them yourselves!

Our next book is Olaf Hajek's Fantastic Fruits by Olaf Hajek and contributed by Annette Roeder.  

From the Publisher:

In this beautiful exploration of everyone’s favorite fresh food, Olaf Hajek’s brilliantly colored and uniquely stylized paintings are accompanied by informative texts that will enthrall readers of all ages.

As in his previous books, Flower Power and Veggie Power, Hajek’s whimsical, imaginative paintings—inspired by a variety of artistic traditions—situate each fruit in a fascinating cultural context. Each “portrait” features delightful pictorial clues about how the fruits are grown and consumed. Opposite the illustrations, Annette Roeder’s engaging texts offer illuminating and often surprising facts from throughout history and contemporary life. As mouthwatering as a summer peach, and as surprising as a pomegranate’s seeds, this book serves up page after page of delicious, nutritious, but most of all fun portions of fruity knowledge from all over the world.

From Me:

Oh, I wish we had this book when we did our fruit explorations when Hazel was younger! This book shares about the fruits. There is information about the names and the history of the fruit as well as the origin and other names. Each fruit is shared with a painting of themed around the fruit by Olaf Hajek. The paintings are colorful and interesting. The information about the fruit is also full of interesting trivia. I love how Annette shares the fruit in literature, legends and folktales. 

This is a beautiful book that is perfect for the fruit lovers. I know Hazel would have loved it when she was young. It is so informative and fun. There is some humor in the writing as well. Plus, the paintings are so interesting. They can begin some fantasy stories and discussions!

Our final book takes a look at using harvests from the garden all year. It is What's Cooking in Flowerville? by Felicita Sala. It shares recipes for each month based on what is fresh or stored (in winter) from a garden as well as gardening tips and more!

From the Publisher:

Young cooks will learn about the edible gifts that each season brings in this warm and inviting collection of recipes from the author of What’s Cooking at 10 Garden Street. In lush double-page spreads featuring Sala’s gorgeous watercolor illustrations, we visit the yards, balconies, and rooftops where the citizens of Flowerville grow their vegetables. Each month features a different member of the town, and a delicious recipe inspired by a fruit or vegetable.

From spring’s asparagus and peas and summer’s cherries, cucumbers and peppers to autumn’s pears and squash and winter’s potatoes and citrus—twelve healthy ingredients are harvested in one of the townspeople’s gardens and then used to make an easy, delicious dish. As the year comes to a close, the town gathers for a giant picnic. The recipes, which include savory and sweet pies, soups, sauces, pancakes and croquettes, embrace a wide array of cultures, and feature fresh flavors and easy-to-source ingredients. Kids will learn not only how to incorporate fruits and vegetables into meals, but also how they grow and when they ripen. The book also includes charmingly illustrated tips and tools for growing your own food. A celebration of gardening, cooking, and community, this unique and beautiful cookbook is certain to become a perennial favorite in family kitchens.

From Me:

What is better than picking food from the garden and then cooking with it? It is always so delicious. This book is about doing just that. It begins with spring and everyone in the garden. Then it goes month by month sharing a bit about something in the garden (and sometimes it is a container or balcony garden) and then a recipe that uses that fruit or vegetable. It goes through the entire year offering

I love how the people in the book are multicultural and how the gardens are different types. There is a community garden as well as individual gardens and container gardens. It talks about all sorts of different fruits and vegetables and has diverse recipes. I know I'm excited to try Pea, Basil, and Mint Soup, the recipe for May, Cherry Clafoutis, the recipe for June, and Herb Falafel with Tahini Sauce, the recipe for March. These are just a few of the recipes I want to try this year. This book is perfect to introduce gardening and eating from the garden with kids. Plus, I love that it teaches them to cook as well. At the end of the book it shares different actions of gardening like transplanting, mulching, and sharing. Then it has illustrations of different types of seeds and gardening tools. This book is really about growing your own food and cooking it. I love these lessons for kids! It is a great book for Earth Day too! Be sure to check out our posts about gardening!

I hope you will check out these three books and then get out and enjoy the spring weather, garden and fruits! Happy spring!