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An Earth’s Bounty Literary Review

By: Cassie Swayze, After School Programs Associate VISTA

We are gearing up for Saturday’s Summer Pageant in the Park here at the Theatre Action Project office. As I also lend an ear, and often both hands, to our Teaching Artist’s projects, I’ve been thinking a lot about the Pageant’s themes. The changing seasons, farming, gardening, and celebrating the Earth’s bounty are all on my mind today. There are a number of books in TAP’s library that I encouraged our Pageant TA’s to share with their classes. Here are a few of my favorites:

The first book is Quiet in the Garden written and illustrated by Aliki. This is a great book for little ones; the illustrations and text are simple yet engaging. The story begins with a little boy exploring his backyard garden. At first it seems like a peaceful place but he soon hears sounds all around – chirp, squeak, crunch. He sits still and listens. As he’s listening, he imagines a butterfly asking a snail why he ate holes in the leaves. The snail explains, that’s what I do when I’m hungry, then slides away. Aliki walks the reader through the different animals and plants in the garden using this simple technique. On the last page the author includes a beautifully illustrated diagram for ways to make your own quiet garden. This would be a great book to introduce young readers to urban gardening.

I also love The Surprise Garden by Zoe Hall with illustrations by Shari Halpern. It’s one of the most popular books in the library; we very rarely have it on the shelf. The story follows a group of children as they plant a garden of carrots and radishes, broccoli and cauliflower, peas, beans, squash, and even a sunflower. Then – surprise – they discover the vegetables growing into a beautiful garden! The book ends with the children eating a vegetable picnic. Halpern’s cut collage illustrations are my favorite part of The Surprise Garden. She captures the joy and mystery of watching a seed turn into a vegetable. Their simple beauty will appeal to both children and adults. The last page of this book features illustrations and descriptions of different seeds as well as the vegetables they grow into.

After the excitement and success of the Pageant in the Park, I would like to add a few more gardening books to the TAP library. I would love to read City Green by Dyanne Disalvo-Ryan. This story is about a little girl who clears out an ugly lot and turns it into a neighborhood garden. It even has a page of instructions for starting your own community garden!

The Garden of Happiness by Erika Tamar with illustrations by Barbara Lambase also looks like a wonderful book. It’s also about a young girl who watches her neighbors grow vegetables in a nearby lot. Her neighbors grow vegetables that remind them of the places they’re from; Mr. Ortiz grows habichuelas from Puerto Rico and Mr. Singh grows beans from Bangladesh. This book looks like a great teaching tool and a treat for both teachers and students!

Come join us on Saturday, at the SFC Farmers’ Market at 11 am for the 4th annual Summer Pageant in the Park!

About creativeactionaustin

We are based in Austin, Texas and reach more than 16,000 young people every year through our unique blend of theatre and education programs.Our programs expose young people to critical social problems and offer opportunities for them to creatively think about how they can be a part of solutions to these problems. Creative Action is a unique blend of art and education – for us, the two are intertwined. We believe that using the arts as a teaching method provides a fun, engaging and inspiring way to learn – it incorporates the whole mind and body.

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