Berkes’ latest is a departure from many children’s gardening books, combining rhyming verses with recipes celebrating the garden’s bounty. Rectos present readers with a rhyming challenge to name what is growing, providing textual clues as well as gorgeously detailed and realistic illustrations, which often feature the flowers, insect pollinators and at least the beginnings of the fruit or vegetable. . . . From the popular ants on a log to the more daring French onion soup, breakfast-y carrot muffins to a dessert of blueberry pie, young chefs are likely to get a wide introduction to both the products of the garden and the culinary arts. . . . A celebration of growing and eating that is just in time for spring planting.
— Kirkus Reviews (January 23, 2013)
Rhythmic poetry gives one-page clues that answer the title question. “It’s round. It’s tiny. It grows on a bush./When made into sauce, it turns to a mush./This fabulous fruit can be used as a dye,/And is really yummy in muffins and pie.” The fresh fruits and vegetables revealed by turning the page are celebrated in vibrant full-color illustrations. Birds and insects also populate these gardens”a slug on celery leaves, a ladybug alighting on a tomato stem in pursuit of aphids, and a crow circling corn plants. Very, very close-up, realistic illustrations show children thoroughly enjoying the garden’s bounty–saliva drips onto an apple being crunched, lettuce sticks out of an African American boy’s teeth, broccoli drenched in dip fills the mouth of an Asian American boy. There’s a recipe for each fruit or vegetable” e.g., garlic mashed potatoes, blueberry pie, and ants on a log. Four pages for adults are filled with ideas for using the book with children.
— School Library Journal – Frances E. Millhouser (May 2013)
It’s just about the right time to begin thinking about what’s going in the garden. If you are looking for idea, then you will enjoy What’s in the Garden? written by Marianne Berkes and illustrated by Cris Arbo. What makes this book unique is that it is designed around kid-friendly recipes for the things you can grow in your garden. Each recipe is introduced by a poem that encourages the reader to guess what fruit or vegetable is going to be used in the recipe. Do you have lettuce, carrots, blueberries, corn or onions? All of these, and more, are the perfect ingredients for salads, soups, sauces, and desserts. Want to know more about each of these? At the back of the book is a list of interesting information about each one. Not sure on how to plant? There is help here, too. It even has a list of important words and more books, songs, and websites that will encourage further exploration.
Needless to say, there is a great “crop” of books for the spring season. Why not “plant” yourself in your local library or bookstore and select a few to “devour”. I am sure you will agree that this will be a wonderful way to begin the spring and get ready for what awaits us as the weather gets warmer.
— Western New York Family Magazine – Dr. Donna Phillips (April 2013)
What’s in the Garden? By Marianne Berkes has story listeners answering a series of gardening riddles. Each rhyming page asks a question…i.e., “You plant them in rows and each forms a head / Or else you can grow the “leaf” kind instead…” The answer is discovered on the following page, complete with a elevant kidfriendly recipe, like applesauce, green salad or carrot muffins. Illustrations by Cris Arbo feature glorious summer gardens buzzing with life and kids enjoying their healthy snacks. The rhymes are inspired, the images inviting and the connections drawn between growing and eating perfect for encouraging the consumption of fresh fruits and veggies.
— E Magazine (March/April 2013)
The predictable answer to the title question? Fruits and vegetables! This attractive introduction to 12 edible plants is intended to stimulate healthy eating among kids. A four-line rhyme poses a question, and the next page provides the answer along with a boxed recipe and an illustration of a child preparing or eating it. For example: “It’s usually brown, way down in the soil. / You scrub it to bake it, or peel it to boil. / It doesn’t have ears, but does have eyes” / It’s really a favorite when mashed or as ‘fries.’”(The recipe that follows is for Garlic Mashed Potatoes.) The realistic, brightly colored paintings depict multicultural children (many missing baby teeth) and use icons for each ingredient . . .
— ALA Booklist – Julie Cummins (May 2013)
Filled with short riddles and facts about fruits and vegetables, this book teaches kids about various fruits and vegetables that can be grown in their own backyard and how good food does not come from a box or a store shelf. Colorful illustrations and easy, kid-friendly recipes inspire a lifetime of good eating. Ages 3-8.
— Charlotte Parent – Katy LeGrand (April 1 2013)
Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? Oh, wait a minute, that’s a flower garden. We don’t eat silver bells, cockleshells, and pretty maids all in a row. But we do eat apples, celery, tomatoes, and pumpkins. Author Marianne Berkes, who has written several other books for Dawn Publications such as Over in the Ocean: In a Coral Reef and Over in the Jungle: A Rainforest Rhyme, tells kids about twelve different fruits and vegetables which can be grown in and around a garden. Did you know that lettuce is the second most popular fresh vegetable in the United States? The potato is number one.
At each opening, there is a rhyming riddle that provides clues to help the reader guess what fruit or vegetable is under consideration. Then when the page is turned, there is the name of the fruit or vegetable, with a picture, drawn by illustrator Cris Arbo, and a kid-friendly recipe for using it. So What’s in the Garden? not only provides a lot of helpful scientific material but also serves as an introductory cookbook for students. The back of the book has further information about the fruits and vegetables mentioned, how to grow a garden, plant parts, and cooking. Many more free teaching and learning ideas are available at the publisher’s website. Children should know that good food begins not with a box on a store shelf but from a garden, and this book will help them understand how that happens.
— Home School Book Review – Wayne Walker (April 2013)
Gardens hold the basis for many of our foods. What’s in the Garden? is a children’s picture book from Marianne Berkes, charmingly illustrated by Cris Arbo exploring the things that reside in the garden, from the fruits and vegetables that blossom there to the critters who call them home. What’s in the Garden? includes some recipes for parents to make with their kid to explore the joys the garden can bring us, highly recommended.
— Midwest Book Review – James Cox (March 2013)
Good food doesn’t come from a box on a supermarket shelf, but from our gardens and farms. This book offers guessing games and tasty recipes to make food interesting and start you on a lifetime of healthy eating.
— Skipping Stones – James Cox (Sept-Oct 2013)
As an avid gardener myself, I am always interested in reading gardening books for kids. What’s in the Garden is a brand new book that is sure to get children interested in not only learning to grow their own food, but also in healthy eating and cooking.
Marianne Berkes, author of many nature books, shares her love of gardening and cooking as she writes about different fruits and veggies in catchy rhyming verse. Each two-page spread features a different fruit or vegetable and a simple recipe using that food, such as applesauce, carrot muffins, blueberry pie and more. You’ll love the colorful illustrations by Chris Arbo, who wonderfully paints children eating or preparing the food as well as the fruits and vegetables themselves. Check out her illustration of an apple. It looks like a photograph!
In the book’s back matter is a list of the foods featured with their history and information about how they grow. There are also tips about growing, descriptions of plant parts, cooking vocabulary and additional resources.
Getting young children interested in learning about gardening and the foods they eat is so important. As a parent I know that makes a big difference in their ability to not only make healthy choices, but also to appreciate what it takes to grow safe, healthy and delicious whole foods. Curious children thrive in school, in work and in life. And gardening is one terrific way to pique their curiosity.
— Good Reads with Ronna – Debbie Glade (Feb. 20, 2013)
This is the latest offering from the prolific children’s nature writer, Berkes and it fits in nicely with the rest of her collection. This is a rhyming riddle book. Each of the twelve fruits and vegetables featured is introduced with an illustration of the young produce “on the vine”, which is accompanied by a short riddle about what it is. Turn the page and you have the answer, along with an illustration of the mature produce being enjoyed by a child.
The illustrations here are gorgeous; photo-realistic down to the last detail. The rhymes are fun and are written at a level that is appropriate to challenge the target audience of 3 to 8-year-olds. In a time when so many of us are separate from the work of growing and preparing the food that we eat, this book helps us to see and recapture that critical link. The diversity of children pictured is great, making it easy for your child to see him/herself in these pages. Included are a dozen recipes to go with each food item, a cooking vocabulary list, and more information about the anatomy of plants and how they grow. Of special interest to educators (home or otherwise) are the printable companion activities available on the book’s website.
— Blogcritics.org – Courtney Cable (May 28, 2013)
Marianne Berkes has made a habit of writing wonderfully inspiring, ‘interactive’ books for children. The series Over In The….(Forest, Ocean, Jungle, Arctic, Australia) contained detailed information hidden in crisp rhymes. She has repeated the feat in her new book What’s in the Garden?
The book is written as easy-to-solve riddles. The short verse on the right-hand page poses a riddle, but you have to turn the page to find the answer. There is also an easy-to-make recipe associated with that fruit or vegetable. This is the first verse:
Delicious, nutritious, what could it be?
In spring there are blossoms all over the tree.
Red, green, or yellow, with fruit that is round.
If you don’t pick it, it plops to the ground.
The answer is apple — red, green or yellow. The accompanying recipe describes how to make applesauce. Each full page spread is an accurate, vibrantly colored illustration that draws the reader in. So detailed are the illustrations that you can almost feel the texture of a leaf, the fine hairs along the pumpkin stalk.
— Grade Reading – Darci Pattison (May 2013)
“Delicious, nutritious, what could it be?” The first page features that important question and an illustration of a bird singing in a tree, pink blossoms blooming all around. Flip the page and you see it’s an apple – complete with directions for how to make applesauce.
There’s lettuce, carrots, cukes, onions and more – each with a recipe for something a child can help prepare. Illustrations feature beneficial insects – ladybugs and bees – as well as potato beetles and other pesky insects that nibble our veggies for lunch.
Four pages of back matter include “Food for Though” which tells a bit more about each of the fruits and vegetables. “How does your Garden Grow?” lists what plants need (light, air, water… just for starters) and clears up the question: is a tomato a fruit? You can learn about plant parts, cooking terms, and find a list of garden songs to sing while you pull weeds. I can’t think of a better place to be on the solstice than in a garden!
— Sallys Bookshelf Blogpost – Sue Heavenrich (July 11, 2013)
What could be better than a book brimming with delicious rhyming verse? A book of taste-tempting riddle poems with gorgeous art, yummy recipes, food for thought, and gardening tips, of course! In What’s in the Garden? (Dawn Publications, 2013), Marianne Berkes and Cris Arbo celebrate the joys of growing and eating twelve familiar fruits and veggies with a cast of adorable, happily-engaged multi-ethnic kids.
This delightfully fun, interactive feast is served up in a clever format: children are asked to guess which fruit or vegetable is described in each of the catchy four-line poems, then turn the page for the answer, where they’ll find an easy recipe featuring the produce to stimulate their appetites.
— Jama’s Alphabet Soup – Jama Rattigan (June 7, 2013)
This is a lovely colorful, illustrated children’s book about the foods that grow in the garden. It is fun for adults too, as the book reads first with a description of the plant, calling on the reader to identify the what is it. I love this idea. Then on the next page the answer is revealed along with a recipe, easy enough to cook together with child, using the plant that was described on the previous page.
This is a great book that I highly recommend, especially if you are planning a garden with the little ones come spring. A+++
— An Angel’s Kiss (March 17, 2013)
Here is a book that will stimulate kids’ appetite for exploring the world of gardens as well as stimulate their appetite for good, fresh food . . . and make the connection between the natural world and what they eat. What’s in the Garden? is a sweet and informative book, perfect to use as a read-aloud with young children
— Carolie Sly, Education Program Director, Center for Ecoliteracy
Filled with vibrant illustrations, this is a great book for introducing edible plants. The rhyming text is easy for children to follow, with enough hints to guess the surprise vegetable on the next page. Using the recipes in the book—or asking students to contribute their own—this book encourages a conversation about the importance of eating fresh fruits and vegetables.
— Rose Judd-Murray, Educational Specialist, National Gardening Association
What’s in the Garden? is fun because children get to solve mysteries! Throughout the book are various rhyming riddles, and kids have to guess which fruit or vegetable is being described. They’ll find an apple, lettuce, blueberry, celery, and much more. And with each food is an easy recipe that kids can make with an adult using the fruits and vegetables. For example, they can make Ants on a Log (using celery), Garlic Mashed Potatoes, and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds. The back of the book includes more info on each food item in the book, information on how plants grow and reproduce, cooking terms, and a list of garden songs, books and websites. Parents, teachers and librarians can find more downloadable activities relating to Dawn Publications’ books at dawnpub.com.
— Susan Heim, Chicken Soup for the Soul Editor (February 2013)
Most people recognize that we have a problem in this country with children’s eating habits. As a parent, I certainly could do better with the food that I provide for my kids. So how do we go about convincing children and their parents that eating healthier is worth the effort? Books like What’s in the Garden? can be part of the solution. This book combines poetry and recipes to make growing, preparing, and eating food a fun experience for a family. Each two page spread starts with a four line rhyming stanza that is the clue for the fruit or vegetable that is the topic of the spread. For example, one particular plant has a “lovely bouquet” for a head and it is great with a dip. Underneath the stanza is an attractive illustration of part of the plant, but not enough to ruin attempts at prediction. When you turn the page, you see a happy child eating a piece of broccoli with dip on it. The recipe and instructions are located beneath the illustration. Although I didn’t see this expressly stated in the text (It could be there. I might have missed it!), it seems that the author has made an attempt to make substitutions in order for the recipes to be healthier. The broccoli dip recipe calls for yogurt instead of mayonnaise. In all, there are 11 fruits and vegetables that are featured in the book. In the back matter, there is more information about each plant and general information about the difference between fruits and vegetables and what they need to grow. A glossary of cooking terms and a list of more sources for garden information are also included. Several more activities and bookmarks are available if you go to the downloadable activities page on the Dawn Publications website.
If your school has a garden, this book would be a great resource for your class. I think sharing some of these recipes and the activities page in a parent newsletter would be helpful as well. For older classes, recipes always show up on those pesky standardized reading tests, so you could write one of these recipes on a piece of chart paper and talk about how you read procedural text and what questions you could ask. This also leads to lessons on sequence. Spring is just around the corner so break out your seed catalog, pick up a copy of What’s in the Garden? and start planning for a season of healthy eating.
— NC Teacher Stuff – Jeff Barger (March 2013)
I thought we might have overdone it. I allowed my four-year-old daughter to pick three recipes from this book (Amazon affiliate link) for us to make for dinner one Friday night—homemade tomato sauce and pasta, cucumber salad, and blueberry pie. How long would dinner take to make? But I was pleasantly surprised—all of the recipes were so easy that we had dinner done in no time at all. The ingredients are simple and fresh and the list of ingredients is short, so each recipe tastes fresh and is simple to prepare.
Sadly, my daughter didn’t enjoy all of the recipes we made. Making the recipes did have her excited about trying new things. She loved the cucumber salad, which I don’t think she would have tried if I would have made it by myself. She concluded that she prefers tomato sauce from a jar, which might say more about my cooking style than anything else. And she wasn’t a big fan of blueberry pie though my wife and I thought it was delicious.
This children’s cookbook is an exploration of fruit and vegetables you might find in your own garden. The pictures are big and bold, which make it easy for my daughter to see what the end result will be. The book is short – only about 15 recipes included. My daughter can’t wait to try more recipes. She has her eye on the corn recipe. All of the recipes require adult help since they involve cooking and cutting. It would be nice to include a few recipes that required less adult intervention, but otherwise I am very happy with the recipes.
— Vegbooks – Jennifer Kali (May 2013)
What struck me first about this book that I was happy to see was the cultural diversity in children’s illustrations. Big deal for those of us in federal agencies (and should be for everyone!) Interesting combo of plant description and a recipe. My favorite part is the fact that the pictures included the pollinators or sometimes pest of the plants….capturing what you truly will see on these plants, like it or not! And I am drawn to rhyming books myself – catchy, fun to read to groups and at the same time shares information. Added bonus that the kids get to “guess” what the vegetable is before turn the page…although a 2 page spread on one topic is a good layout too.
— Linda Hauser – USDA Forest Service, Shawnee National Forest (March 2013)
What’s In the Garden? is a new favorite of my 4 year old son. This book is packed full of a variety of fruits and veggies you find your garden. The best part? Each fruit or veggie comes with a yummy, kid-friendly recipe to help develop a love for fresh, healthy foods! Plus, there is an awesome “food for thought” section that gives interesting facts about each fruit and vegetable. The “how does your garden grow?” section, with cool facts about gardening and plants, really got my son excited for planting our garden in Spring. I love this book for reinforcing healthy foods and the excitement it brings to growing and cooking your own food!
— Your World Natural Blogspot – Cara Nitz (March 2013)
I didn’t think Marianne Berkes could top her “”Over in the” series, but she has! The cadence of the riddles pulls you right in and it is so much fun to guess the plant that is being described. The recipes are not only child friendly, but will appeal to adults as well. As usual, Marianne has provided a wealth of helpful information and resources at the end of the book. I plan to use What’s in the Garden for story time with Henry Cole’s Jack’s Garden and Lois Ehlert’s Eating the Alphabet.
— Judy Houser, Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy (February 2013)
This was such a cute book, my daughter and I loved it. In fact we made the french onion soup recipe in here, it was phenomenal she loved it. These are my favorite types of childrens books, ones that can actually engage your children in the kitchen or outside in the garden. We have decided based on this book to start a garden in the spring, this made it look so fun!
— Cypertronic Reviews – Stephanie Szostak (January 2013)