Brown, Peter. The Curious Garden. Little Brown, 2009. While Brown has gotten a lot of attention for his goofy, likable Children Make Terrible Pets (2010), this ecological fable is one to savor. Liam is exploring his drab city when he discovers plants growing on the old elevated railroad tracks. He decides to tend the patch, and the plants spread. What will happen, though, when winter comes? Spring delivers a big surprise, as other children join Liam in tending plants — and in transforming the city. In his note, Brown says he always wondered what would happen if an entire city were to cooperate with nature. This picture book invites us to imagine the possibilities.
Cole, Henry. On Meadowview Street. Greenwillow, 2007. Caroline and her family have moved to a new house in the suburbs. Noticing a flower in the middle of their lawn, she asks her dad to mow around it. The lone flower multiplies and gains companion flowers, and Caroline discovers birds and butterflies visiting her little wildflower plot. Soon her parents get inspired, and help her plant a shade tree and make a bird house. Now, instead of a boring lawn, they have a view of a lovely, biologically diverse meadow. For details on creating your own wildlife habitat, see the National Wildlife Federation site.
Bright paintings and clear text point out flowers that attract butterflies and show how they grow, from caterpillars to proficient fliers. Each butterfly inside the book also appears on the endpapers, thereby inviting readers to play a matching game. Best of all, it might inspire you and your children to create your own butterfly garden.
Mora, Pat. Yum! MmMm! Que Rico!: America’s Sproutings. illus. by Rafael López. Lee & Low, 2007. Enjoy the fruits of farmers’ labors with this collection of haiku lauding the attributes of foods native to the Americas. Each poem is accompanied by information on the food’s origins and uses. Tasty topics include the papaya, the blueberry, chile, corn, cranberry, pecan, pineapple, potato, prickly pear, pumpkin, tomato, vanilla, and chocolate. López adds appeal with his vivid, Latin-flavored paintings. Américas Award winner.
Tamar, Erika. The Garden of Happiness. Harcourt Brace, 1996. An inspiring story of how Marisol and her neighbors create a lush community garden out of a vacant lot.