Reviews for My Garden

Booklist Reviews 2010 January #1
A young girl's garden grows as big as her imagination in Henkes' latest title that employs what seems to be the elements of his current artistic period: thick outlines; boldly applied, ice-cream parlor colors; and simple declarative sentences. After describing how she helps her mother water and weed, a young girl imagines her own silly and sweet garden filled with eternal flowers that can change color and pattern, chocolate rabbits, seashells that grow new seashells, and a giant jelly-bean bush. (No carrots, though--yuck!) The story's shift back to the real world is visually and textually subtle and possible to miss, but kids are sure to forget any confusion amid the giggles and dreams the story inspires. While this botanical fantasy may end with a contented sigh instead of an impressed "wow," it is still an enjoyable tour of an imaginary place and will plant creativity and satisfaction in young minds. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Fall
In a little girl's imaginary garden, the bunnies are chocolate, there for the eating; planting jellybeans yields a jellybean bush. Henkes goes beyond kids' love of sweets, perceptively conveying the strange appeal of ordinary objects: "Sometimes...good, unusual things would just pop up--buttons and umbrellas and rusty old keys." The black-outlined pastel-colored art is as playful as the text. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2010 #2
A little girl helps her mother in the garden, watering, weeding, chasing away the rabbits: "It's hard work, and my mother's garden is very nice, but if I had a garden..." What follows is a fine description of a garden any child would love. Many aspects would appeal to adults, too: there are no weeds, the flowers grow back as soon as they're picked, and the air hums with bird and butterfly wings. But other details display the author's keen understanding of what's really on kids' minds come spring: the bunnies in this garden are chocolate, there for the eating; planting jellybeans yields a jellybean bush -- in the illustration, the girl busily harvests the beans, her candy-filled straw hat like an Easter basket of tiny colorful eggs. Henkes goes beyond kids' love of sweets, though, perceptively conveying the strange appeal and mystery that ordinary objects can hold: "Sometimes in my garden, good, unusual things would just pop up -- buttons and umbrellas and rusty old keys." The black-outlined pastel-colored art is as playful as the text; one picture calls to mind both early Sendak (the girl's mouth round with song, her eyes closed) and Crockett Johnson (Carrot Seed-like, a huge vegetable fills a wheelbarrow; here the vegetable is a tomato, though, "because I don't like carrots"). With its adroit look at a child's colorful imagination, My Garden is as fresh and inviting as spring after winter. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2010 March #1
A little girl enjoys helping her mother in her garden, but she knows if she had a garden, it would be something else entirely: no weeds, ever-blooming multicolored flowers with hues she can change with just a thought, chocolate rabbits instead of pests and so on. "If I planted seashells, I'd grow seashells. / ... / Sometimes in my garden, good, unusual things would just pop up--buttons, and umbrellas and rusty old keys." With a neat, square trim and sunny, pastel palette, this intimate exploration of a child's burgeoning imagination hits every note right. Sketching his outlines with broad, blue ink strokes, Henkes modulates his watercolors beautifully from bright daylight to dreamy firefly-light. Before going in for bed, she plants a seashell--and the artist validates every child's imagination with his final image. Just plain perfect. (Picture book. 3-7) Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2010 January #4

Spring colors of lilac, daffodil yellow, pale blue, and leafy green bloom in Caldecott Medalist Henkes's fanciful account of the great outdoors. "My mother has a garden. I'm her helper," explains a girl, who wears a petunia-pink dress and a golden straw hat. She dutifully waters and weeds, "but if I had a garden," she says, things would be less predictable. Gazing up at sunflowers, she giggles to imagine them colored in dots and plaids. She picks a flower and, in her perfect garden, another pops right up. Seashells and jelly beans sprout, disliked vegetables are invisible, and pests are not a problem: "the rabbits would be chocolate and I would eat them." At this, the girl nibbles a bunny, surrounded by cocoa rabbits wearing telltale ribbons. Henkes gives the young storyteller a matter-of-fact voice and a sly sense of humor, while dewy watercolors and ink picture her reveling in a magical world of plants, birds, and butterflies. Even as the story elevates the wonders of nature into the realm of the fanciful, it reminds readers to appreciate everyday flowers and soil. Ages 2-7. (Feb.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2010 March

PreS-Gr 2--Imagination grows and spreads from the fertile pages of this book to the minds of young readers. Henkes's familiar illustration style invites children into a most unusual garden. It never needs weeding, the flowers are ever-blooming, and colors change just by thinking of them (even into patterns). "In my garden, rabbits wouldn't eat the lettuce because the rabbits would be chocolate and I would eat them." Jelly beans would grow on bushes. Tomatoes would be the size of beach balls, but "carrots would be invisible because I don't like carrots!" Intense pastel colors and soft navy outlines bring the perfect garden to life. Colors splash across the pages, matching the enthusiasm of the text. The vibrancy and size of the artwork make this an excellent choice for groups, large or small. A must for every library.--Carolyn Janssen, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH

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