Monday, November 30, 2015

The 2015 Children's Book That Carried My Heart in Its Heart

Oh, the possibilities when forced to choose my favorite children’s book of 2015!

There’s Mo Willems' I REALLY LIKE SLOP! - which my grandson and I really really REALLY like.
And my writer Dr. Tererai Trent’s picture book autobiography THE GIRL WHO BURIED HER DREAMS IN A CAN.  (There’s a reason why Tererai was "Oprah’s Favorite Guest!")
and Laura Amy Schlitz’s THE HIRED GIRL gifted me respectively with 9-year-old Anna Bauman, 11-year-old Nell Warne and 14-year-old Joan Skraggs, characters whose stories kept me turning the pages as I lived and breathed alongside them – in WWII Warsaw, 1860’s Chicago and 1911 Baltimore.

The above titles did what children’s books must do: amuse, inform, inspire, encourage and always, always, leave the reader hopeful.

The one book, though, that carried my heart in its heart? 
Author-illustrator Emily HughesTHE LITTLE GARDENER.

I first learned of this singular picture book in Maria Popova’s August 10 Brain Pickings.
She’d called it “a tender illustrated parable of purpose and the power of working with love.”
Publishers Weekly called it, in its starred review, “a tender metaphor for the miracle of gardening.”
School Library Journal praised its spirit that applauded tenacity.

For me, a TeachingAuthor, it was surely and purely a Two-fer.

The writer in me sighed as I read of the little gardener toiling away in his garden that meant everything to him.  “It was his home. It was his supper. It was his joy.” Alas, “he wasn’t much good at gardening,” even though “he worked very, very hard.  He was just too little.”  But there was that one  “alive and wonderful” flower that gave the little gardener hope and made him work even harder, that one bloom that made him wish he had a little help.

The teacher in me smiled.
Seeding and feeding writers, helping them grow their stories, is how I spend my days.

I ordered up THE LITTLE GARDENER pronto and read it aloud to welcome my Newberry Library Workshop picture book writers this Fall.
Help was on the way, I assured them. 
And soon they would learn they meant everything to their stories.

Writing? Gardening? To me they’re the same.

It’s all about growing, yes?
Hurrah for children’s books and how they help us grow, no matter their pub dates!

I wish our TeachingAuthors readers Happy Holidays and Happy Bloomin’ in 2016.

Esther Hershenhorn


Bobbi Miller said...

These sound like wonderful books! I'm a big fan of Maria Popova and Brain Pickings, too. The book, The Little Gardener, looks utterly charming. Thank you for the recommendations!

Linda B said...

Thanks for books new to me, but I do know and loved The Little Gardener. It is such a slow and patient book.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Esther! Your writing about other's books is generous and joyful. And, of course, now I want to own this book and read it in my next class!

michelle kogan said...

Esther, " The Little Gardener" looks and sounds like an enchanting read, I definitely want to pour over it. Thanks for sharing it with us along with your other noted books here. I was taken in right away by Kate Hannigan's "The Detective's Assistant."

Esther Hershenhorn said...

I'm glad you loved THE LITTLE GARDENER too, Linda B.
I know April, Michelle and Bobbi will too once they read it.

jan godown annino said...

Awww. "seeding and feeding" is SO you, Esther.
I'm in love with this little gardener just from your review.
Can't wait to dig in to Emily Hughes' book.

(I'm a fan of Maria Popova, too.)

The other titles must be great, to have your boost.

my special best Holiday wishes to you, with a big ribbon of
thanks for all your great posts this year.

many more appreciations,
for all the sparkling Teaching Authors articles in 2015.


Unknown said...

XO Esther, so thrilled to see The Safest Lie mentioned with these treasures. You, my dear, have a very large garden with so many seeds you have helped nurture!
-Angela Cerrito