In this part of the world the bounty of vegetable gardens is reaching its peak, and we should not let summer pass without one more imaginative gardening story. Thus I present you with My Garden by Kevin Henkes.


A little girl enjoys helping in her mother’s garden; but when she considers what a garden of her own might be like, she comes up with something quite different. Permanent blooms in changing colors, buttons growing on vines, glowing strawberries and sprouting sea shells are just a few of the delights conjured by this fanciful girl. In fact, with invisible carrots and jellybean bushes, it’s probably anyone’s perfect garden. When the little girl is called in for the night she takes a chance on her own magic, and readers are given a hopeful glimpse of her gardening success.

This story, so charmingly illustrated by the author, is a pleasing expression of a child’s imagination. She clearly enjoys spending time with her mother, and has learned more than a thing or two; yet she is permitted to dig and dream, improve and imagine all on her own. She takes those timeless skills and gives them a cheerful twist. The wonder she creates would take even the grumpiest gardener back to the halcyon days of a childhood summer.

My Garden is a dreamy readaloud for toddlers through the early grades. The pictures are large and simple enough – and the story short enough – to make this a very good choice to read out to a group at a story time or birthday party. For children who can sit in your lap and see closer, there is a small detail which I particularly appreciate: both the sketched outlines of the illustrations and the words of the text are printed in a dark royal blue rather than black. It’s a subtle difference, but it makes these pages tremendously inviting.

May you enjoy these last few days of summer in a garden, with a book in your hands and a child in your lap.

If you liked this book you might also enjoy: All In A Day by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Nikki McClure