Behold Our Magical Garden: Poems Fresh From a School Garden by Allan Wolf, illustrated by Daniel Duncan

Behold Our Magical Garden: Poems Fresh From a School Garden by Allan Wolf, illustrated by Daniel Duncan. Candlewick Press, 2022. 9781536204551

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3

Format: Hardcover 

Genre: Poetry anthology

What did you like about the book? A variety of poetic forms and styles will delight and inform the reader about the joys of a school garden project.  The collection runs the gamut from a humorous set of couplets extolling the virtues of student garden volunteers, to a shape poem called “Poetree” depicting the features of a sturdy tree, to a free verse ode to a trusty wheelbarrow.  An entire school year’s worth of activities and observations are covered; there are poems about planning and planting as well as about the cardinals perched in the bare branches of winter.  Some contain factual information, as in “Latin Nomenclature,” while others tend toward the fantastic like “Attila the Hen and the Mystical Egg Plant.”  Illustrations depicting a diverse group of hardworking children and the fruits of their labors embellish every page and perfectly match the tone of the mostly light-hearted poems.

This anthology will make a nice addition to a classroom library as it offers a fresh look at a pretty popular school activity, and may inspire both young gardeners and poets.  It will likely have limited appeal to young readers as an independent choice, but if they give it a chance they will find a lot to like, including hidden gems such as “The Diary of a Carrot” or “The FBI of Compost.”  Teachers, at least, will appreciate the author’s “Notes on the Poems” which explains the different forms of poetry and offers suggestions for reading aloud and creative writing activities.

Anything you did not like about the book?  No

To whom would you recommend this book? It’s a serviceable addition to classroom and elementary library collections for grades 3-5, particularly at schools where gardening projects are underway.  It would also make a nice gift for a teacher who has spearheaded such a project.

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it?  Poetry

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Leigh Russell King, Lincoln Street School, Northborough, Massachusetts.

Date of review: May 13, 2022

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