Fruits and Vegetables

Nature’s bounty fills fields, farm stands, gardens, and kitchens during the summer months. These books are filled with fun stories and information about fruits and vegetables.

Web links to additional information and activities about growing and eating fruits and vegetables follow these reviews.

Contributor: Peg Glisson


The Bear Who Shared

Catherine Rayner

Norris, a wise bear, knows that plorringes are “the best fruit of all.” He is waiting patiently under the plorringe tree for “something wonderful to happen.” Tulip, a raccoon, and Violet, a mouse, also love plorringes. They are all watching a juicy-looking one on the tree. While Tulip and Violet sniff the fruit, vainly listening for some sound, even hugging it, Norris just waits. Then, “UH-OH! WHOMP!” Down it falls, on his head. It’s his. But wise Norris is also kind. He shares the delicious fruit with Violet and Tulip. And the special thing that happens is that he acquires two new friends who share everything. Rayner tells this moral tale visually on white pages with watercolor images of a fruit-laden tree and the three animals. The few words that accompany the illustrations are printed in the warm colors of the plorringes in rather large typefaces, extra large for the sound of the fall. The bodies of the loosely painted, vital trio are suggested rather than stipulated. The moral of the story is obvious. Students might find the search for the identity of the “plorringes” a challenge. 2011 (orig. 2010), Dial Books for Young Readers/Penguin Young Readers Group, .Ages 3 to 6, $16.99.

REVIEWERS: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9780803735767

Blueberries Grow on a Bush

Mari C. Schuh

Yummy, juicy, tasty blueberries! This fruit grows on round bushes in moist, acidic soil. But how does it grow? A farmer plants the teeny, tiny seeds which are no bigger than the tip of a pin. In the spring, the blueberry bushes grow green leaves. Then white or pink bell-shaped flowers appear. Bees pollinate the flowers, and each flower turns into a blueberry. Blueberries grow in clusters and love the sun. They can also grow in partial shade. Because blueberries ripen at different times, they can be picked three times a year. When winter comes, the berry bushes lose their leaves and go to sleep until the following spring. There are several other kinds of bushes that grow berries, such as raspberries, blackberries, and huckleberries. The author did a great job of using pictures and words in these easy-to-read sentences, making this book a fun read. It will be an interesting book for children and parents to read together. The child can study the pictures, while the parent reads, or they can take turns reading and looking at the pictures. It’s a great way to build a solid foundation in reading with young children. The colorful pictures are large and take up the page. 2011, Capstone Press, Ages 6 to 8, $20.65.

REVIEWER: Beverly Melasi (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781429652827

A Few Bites

Cybele Young

Big sister Viola getting her younger brother Ferdie to eat his lunch of carrot sticks, broccoli and ravioli. Very inventively Viola convinces Ferdie that dinosaurs ate tons of broccoli, and if he eats his, he will be more intelligent and can become the “top boss of all the dinosaurs.” She also persuades him that carrot sticks were considered a source of great power by aliens known as Zyblots, so of course Ferdie promptly eats them all. But Viola’s imagination falters during a fantastic account of an underwater adventure. The ravioli remains uneaten and there is no dessert. By cleverly combining black and white drawings with whimsical, detailed watercolored three dimensional paper sculptures, Ms. Young creates a book that artfully combines the ordinary with the illusory. The result is unique and beautiful. Children will love examining how the characters romp through the wonderful adventures and end up “sharing” the unique dessert that Ferdie concocts with his toys. Use this story as a read aloud and be assured that it will be requested again and again. Place this title on the purchase list. 2012, Groundwood Books, Ages 4 to 6, $18.95.

REVIEWER: Sylvia Firth (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781554982950

Garbage Helps Our Garden Grow: A Compost Story

Linda Glaser

photographs by Shelley Rotner

Garbage does help gardens grow, just as Linda Glaser’s informative book on compost shows. In this large picture book, young students are taught how a family grows various vegetables and fruits and why their compost bin is important to the process. The family members collect their leftover produce, vegetable scraps from meals, and coffee grounds and then toss them into a compost bin. The author thoughtfully details how items such as grass clippings, old Halloween pumpkins, and leaves become compost. Adding water and turning over the collected organic mass are steps in the process of turning organic material into compost. Worms can speed up the composting process. Decaying is one of nature’s ways of recycling, and when the compost is ready, it can be worked into gardens. Everyone benefits from the cycle of using, reusing, and recycling. Composting also helps society because less waste is tossed in the garbage. The photographs illustrating this text are outstanding. Included in this book is an excellent question-and-answer section about composting. Indeed, this is an amazing new science book for anyone who is interested in doing everything possible to provide a successful future for students. 2010, Millbrook Press, Ages 5 to 10, $25.26.

REVIEWER: Martha Svatek (National Science Teachers Association).

ISBN: 9780761349112

A Garden for Pig

Kathryn K. Thurman

Illustrated by Lindsay Ward

Follow the adventures of the hungry porker as he pursues his quest for variety in his diet. Tired of apples, Pig sets out to raid the family vegetable garden. This early reader book is full of beautiful color, mixed media illustrations and includes information about growing an organic garden. Pig is adorable and innocently mischievous. This is sure to be a favorite for youngsters and their parents. This selection would be a good classroom introduction to the world of growing plants and gardening with its additional informational pages. 2010, Kane Mille, Ages 4 to 6, $15.99.

REVIEWER: Donna Ashcraft (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781935279242

Giant Peach Yodel

Jan Peck

Illustrated by Barry Root

Most peaches are meant to be kept in the palm of one’s hand. “Giant Peach Yodel!” is a children’s picturebook following a young family as they go the Peach Pickin’ Festival and find that picking a gigantic peach for the festival will prove very difficult. Drawing from Russian folklore, “Giant Peach Yodel!” is a strongly recommended addition to any children’s picturebook collection, beautifully illustrated by Barry Root. 2012, Pelican Publishing Company, Ages 4+, $16.99.

REVIEWER: Midwest Book Review (Children’s Bookwatch).

ISBN: 9781589809802

Green Beans, Potatoes, And Even Tomatoes : What Is In The Vegetable Group?

Brian Cleary

Illustrated by Martin Goneau

Popular author Cleary takes on nutrition with this fun promotion of vegetables. His humorous cats lead the reader through the many ways we prepare and eat vegetables, their nutritional value, and recommended ways of consuming them daily. Using child friendly rhymes, the author manages to name most of the commonly consumed veggies and even a few uncommon ones. The new USDA food pyramid is included as well as sources for calculating the amounts and equivalents needed by different age groups daily. The book is appealing with its large sized print and colorful named vegetables and it is sure to increase the vegetable lexicon for early readers. 2011, Millbrook Press, Ages 5 to 7, $25.26.

REVIEWER: Meredith Kiger, Ph.D. (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781580135887

Grow Your Own Soup

John Malam

Part of the “Grow it Yourself!” series, this book gives children detailed instructions on how to grow their own pumpkins for a creamy fall soup. Malam introduces the pumpkin with a quick overview of the many various types of pumpkin plants, and he explains the requirements for growing healthy pumpkins. Each book in the series focuses on one type of plant, to show young readers not only how to grow it properly, but how to use the plant after it’s grown. In beautifully illustrated, simple terms, Malam walks beginning gardeners through the process of growing a garden. From determining where and when to plant, picking out the proper variety for your growing conditions, and sowing the seeds to caring for the young plants as they grow to maturity, children can follow the easy instructions to grow a hearty meal. Malam explains the proper way to tell when the pumpkins are ready to harvest, and how to prepare the pumpkin to cook after it’s been picked. He includes a simple recipe for using the freshly-picked produce. Stunning full-color photographs complement the instructions contained in the book, allowing children of all reading levels to learn how to grow a successful garden. A glossary, index and list of resources for further research make this book the perfect resource for anyone who wants to learn to garden, anyone who has ever worried that they might not have a green thumb, or who has ever wondered where the food we eat comes from. 2012, Heinemann Library/Capstone, Ages 6 up, $26.00.

REVIEWER: Veronica Bartles (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781432951061

It’s Harvest Time

Jean McElroy
Photos by Tilde

This durable board book is one of the rare publications for kindergarten and grade one that has earned an NSTA/CBC award as an Outstanding Science Trade Book. That’s because of its sturdy format, developmentally appropriate content, and accurate science for the level. The publisher uses photographs and fold-out pages to show how five different types of seeds grow into unique plants and ultimately into fruits and vegetables that people eat. This is an ideal book for a center on plants or to introduce a school gardening project. With the White House’s push to encourage local gardening and nutrition, this is a great choice for a classroom library. Grades K-2. 2010, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, Ages 5 to 8, $7.99.

REVIEWER: CBC Reviewer (National Science Teachers Association).

ISBN: 9781442403529

Little Mouse’s Big Secret

Eric Battut

Mouse is excited to find a small red fruit and decides to keep it a secret, burying it in the ground. Bird is the first to ask what he’s hiding. “It’s my secret and I’ll never tell,” Mouse answers. Turtle, Hedgehog, Rabbit, and Frog ask in turn what Mouse is hiding, and his reply is always the same. But something does change with each turn of the page in this beautifully designed picture book: A seed inside the fruit Mouse buried sprouts and begins to grow. A seedling becomes a small tree that grows branches, sparse leaves become a full green canopy, and ripe fruit appears. Mouse, whose back is to the growing tree, is oblivious to all that’s taking place behind him until apples start falling. “‘Uh-oh! My secret is out!’ But sometimes … secrets are even better when you share them.” Eric Battut’s spare, simple text is a perfect match for the small figures and delicate whimsy of his visual storytelling in an understated picture book that invites young children to participate. They can join in on Mouse’s repeated refrain, and no doubt they will notice and discuss with delight! the tree taking shape behind Mouse. 2011, Sterling, Ages 3-6, $12.95.

REVIEWER: CCBC (Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choices).

ISBN: 9781402774621

One Little Blueberry

Tammi Salzano

A lively learning to count picture book filled with charming beetles, buzzing bees, sleepy crickets, ladybugs, butterflies, spiders, grasshoppers, and caterpillars all chasing one little blueberry rolling down a hill. Two red ants see the blueberry and begin to chase it, followed by three spotted ladybugs and four bumble bees who spy it from above. Five hungry beetles want it for their own but six crickets join the hunt as it rolls on by. Seven caterpillars and eight fluttering butterflies want it for their lunch. Nine spinning spiders and ten grasshoppers claim it for their own, until a bird swoops down, grabs the blueberry and happily flies away. Colorful and lively illustrations will delight children and adults, as well as following the increasing number of insects trying to catch one little blueberry. The surprise ending is a clever way to end this entertaining number book. 2011, Tiger Tales, Ages 2 to 5, $12.95.

REVIEWER: Della A. Yannuzzi (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781589258594

One Watermelon Seed

Celia B. Lottridge

Illustrated by Karen Patkau

Celia Barker Lotteridge’s skill as a storyteller transforms this counting book into an engaging story. Readers follow Max and Josephine planting a garden in early spring. As the sequence of numbers increases so does the size of the plants until the pages fill with a summer garden teeming with fruits and vegetables. Harvest brings a logical switch to larger numbers when the counting pattern switches to counting by 10’s. This technique increases the book’s versatility as well as tying number concepts to life experience: one tomato seed produces many tomatoes! Bold, vibrant illustrations, created by Karen Patkau, complement the text by providing opportunities for extending number activities. Each page provides a multitude of opportunities to extend the theme: pairs of feet and gloves; bugs, birds, animals and animal tracks are clearly illustrated, making them accessible to count together in a large group or individually. This book has the potential for many curriculum tie-ins. The book is ideal to support math with its strong emphasis on number concepts. The book provides an opportunity for discussion about numbers and encourages making connections between numbers and life experiences. One Watermelon Seed also supports science curriculum concerned with plants or seasonal change. I would highly recommend this book to both school and public libraries. The book is highly attractive, provides a good story and is written in language accessible to young independent readers. The format of the book, with its clear drawings, makes it ideal for reading aloud to large groups. Category: Picture Books. Thematic Links: Counting; Plants; Gardening; Seasonal Change. Resource Links Rating: E (Excellent, enduring, everyone should see it!), Gr. Preschool – 2. 2008 (orig. 1986 by Oxford Univ. Press), Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 32p. Illus., Hdbk. $17.95. Ages 2 to 8.

REVIEWER: Linda Berezowski (Resource Links).

ISBN: 9781554550340

The Patchwork Garden

Diane de Anda

Illustrations by/ilustraciones de Oksana Kemarskaya; Spanish translation by/traducciaon al espaanol de Gabriela Baeza Ventura
Many gardens can come together for something beautiful. “The Patchwork Garden” is a bilingual children’s picturebook from Diane DeAnda and illustrator Oksana Kemarskaya, as they tell a story of Tona and her desire to build a fancy and charming garden in her school, but learns to work with the other students to make a diverse and interesting garden for everyone. “The Patchwork Garden” is a must for children’s picturebook collections with a focus on English/Spanish selections, highly recommended. 2013, Arte Publico Press, n/a, $16.95.

REVIEWER: Midwest Book Review (Children’s Bookwatch, May 2013).

ISBN: 9781558857636

Rah, Rah, Radishes!: A Vegetable Chant

April Pulley Sayre

Your son,” a friend told me when I picked him up after a dinner at her house one day, “not only ate his cooked vegetables. He asked for seconds of salad, too!” That is why, even though my son is a bit old for picture books, I thought he might like this one. (I was right.) Sayre’s celebration of all things vegetable appeals to the senses. The rhyming text is bouncy and uncomplicated, but the full-page, full-color photographs of vegetable market bounty invite the eye to keep looking while tantalizing the palate. Shown in a variety of baskets and containers, on counters and tabletops, in markets and in piles, these “veggies rock!” Readers will appreciate the “Few More Bites” page at the end, which explains “What is a vegetable?,” invites readers to learn all about veggies, urges youth to “Color [Their] Plate,” and explains that additional veggies can be found at the author’s web site. A sensational feast of a book, this is a good selection for elementary classrooms and public libraries. 2011, Beach Lane Books, Ages 3 to 8, $14.99.

REVIEWER: Heidi Hauser Green (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781442421417

10 Hungry Rabbits : Counting And Color Concepts For The Very Young

Anita Lobel

An entire family of rabbits contributes in some way to making a big pot of soup in this counting and color concept book. There are ten very hungry baby rabbits, but there is nothing in the house to eat. So the rabbits go out to the garden to find some vegetables for their soup. Each rabbit pulls up a different number and color vegetable. One rabbit pulls up one purple cabbage, another rabbit pulls up five pink potatoes. Each vegetable is illustrated and accompanied by the number in numerals and in words and the sentence has the word written in its appropriate color (i.e. the word orange is in orange, the word brown is in brown). After the children gather the vegetables, the father rabbit cuts up the vegetables and the mother rabbit cooks them in the pot. The gouache and watercolor illustrations create vivid colors on the page. This book not only teaches colors, numbers, vegetables, but it has a soothing story arc. It could be used in a preschool or kindergarten classroom, but also still enjoyed as a bedtime story at home. Recommended for libraries, classrooms, or as a gift for a young child. 2012, Knopf/Random House, Ages 3 mo. to 5, $9.99.

REVIEWER: Marcie Flinchum Atkins (Children’s Literature)

ISBN: 9780375868641

The Watermelon Seed

Greg Pizzoli

The narrator of this story, a silly crocodile, loves watermelon. It eats watermelon morning, noon, and night, and cannot think of a time it did not love watermelon. Until one day, when it swallows a watermelon seed! The reader follows the crocodile through its worst nightmares, concocted from its incredible imagination, of what might happen now that there is a seed in its stomach, from vines growing out of its ears to its skin turning pink. The youngest readers and listeners will want to read on to find out how the crocodile solves his watermelon-sized problem! In his picture book debut, Pizzolis hand screen-printed illustrations, using only the colors green, pink, black, and white, bring his hand-lettered words to life. This story will make a fun read-aloud for preschool classrooms and library groups, where many children will delight in Pizzolis interpretation of this crocodile’s biggest fear.
BIBLIO: 2013, Hyperion Books/Disney Book Group, Ages 3 to 5, $16.99.

REVIEWER: Anne Pechnyo

ISBN: 9781423171010

Updated 08/01/13

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