by Eve Bunting; illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt
I haven't reviewed many board books, but then I haven't encountered many as lovely and enticing as this one. A young girl and her Dad are planning a special birthday surprise for her mother in this sweet, all-too-brief story told in super-simple quatrains.
We meet the girl--and her would-be garden--in the store:
Garden in a shopping cart
Doesn't it look great?
Garden on the checkout stand
I can hardly wait.
And so it goes, until the flowers have been lugged home, repotted and perched in a window box overlooking a bustling city street. Hewitt captures expressions flawlessly in her warm, earthy acrylics, from the girl's glowing fascination to the mother's genuine surprise.
Nice, too, that the book's rugged cardboard will hold up to rough treatment from little fingers, as this may become a fast favorite. Toddlers are notorious for getting restless quickly, but the story is short and the rhymes easy, and you can point out flowers and colors to keep them engaged.
The art features an African-American family, but the appeal should quite obviously be universal. (I like how many illustrators no longer assume the default race of characters is white, but that's another topic for another day.)