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And the Good Brown Earth


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About the Author

Kathy Henderson has written several award-winning books, most recently THE STORM, which she also illustrated, and THE BABY DANCES. Of AND THE GOOD BROWN EARTH, she says, "Isn't it amazing what can happen when you just put a seed in the earth? This story just came springing up out of the ground like the plants in our family vegetable plot, and the seed it took was my youngest child showing me how to do things her way." As well as writing and illustrating, Kathy Henderson works as an artist and printmaker. She has a strong interest in music and sound and has written a number of programs for radio. She lives in North London and has three children.


PreS-Gr 2-Through the seasons, from late fall ("Now's digging time") until late summer ("Now's gathering time"), Gram and Joe visit the vegetable patch together, and the boy learns by observing, then does things in his own playful way. His grandmother is a patient and avid gardener whose energy and enthusiasm match Joe's joie de vivre. The poetic text, with its repetitive phrases and homey exclamations, flows nicely off the tongue. Soothing brown-toned, veined leaf prints on the endpapers lead into soft paintings that show a wide expanse of rural acreage, the leafless branches of winter, the greening and flowering of spring, the lush foliage of summer, and the jeweled colors of fall. Henderson has achieved a textured look by creatively using paint in crackling and spattering techniques-perhaps adding some oil pastel, as well. The simply drawn figures of Gram and Joe, clearly the focus on story-centered white pages, blend into the panoramic scenes on the full spreads. Perfect for storytime and for one-on-one sharing, this treasure of a book highlights the bonds between the generations and between gardeners and the earth.-Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

During a year's worth of visits to the vegetable patch, Gram, her grandson Joe, and the earth all do what they do best. For Gram, that means knowing when it's the right time to plan, plant and tend a garden ("Now's watching time," she says, putting a scarecrow in the ground to guard against the birds). Young Joe, on the other hand, is an expert at finding the fun in everything-throwing dirt and seeds around in the fall, spraying Gram with the garden hose in summer. And when they complete their season-appropriate tasks, "the good brown earth" takes over, "doing what the good brown earth does best," in the words of the book's rolling refrain. Henderson (The Storm) puts lilting repetition to effective use in her prose, but at times gets carried away with the descriptions. On one early spring visit to the garden, "the birds were singing, the trees were flowering, and the rain and the sun were chasing each other across the sky"-all of which Henderson expresses more fluidly in her feathery, intricately textured landscapes. Overall, however, this is a beguilingly soft-spoken invitation to savor the magic of the ever-changing garden and the intergenerational bond between Gram and Joe. Gram is fun-loving but secure in her role as grown-up. It's no wonder Joe feels so free in her presence-whether he's lolling in the spring grass or feasting on late summer blackberries. Ages 3-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

"This treasure of a book highlights the bonds between the generations and between gardeners and the earth."

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