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Spring is definitely springing here – daffodils are starting to peep up and the air is fresh rather than bitter. Even if your fingers aren’t green (mine definitely aren’t) this is the time of year to start thinking about gardens. And what a perfect book to begin with.

515ayNywSgLNewly out, Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt is is a follow-up to Over and Under the Snow and looks at what happens beneath the earth as well as above.

It is taken from the point of view of a little girl who is working on a garden with her Nana:

Up in the garden, I stand and plan – my hand full of seeds and my head full of dreams.

It begins at spring time and with inquisitive questions about what is under the soil.

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The story takes us through the little girl’s progress up in the garden, planting seeds and watching them grow through all of the seasons until winter when the garden is sleeping. And all this time, we learn about what is happening down in the dirt.

So up in the garden it’s time to plant and water some seeds whilst down in the dark in the dirt a tomato hornworm rests.

It is fascinating and great to engage kids in the cycle of the seasons and what is happening around them.

The text is poetic and a great example of how you don’t have to rhyme to get beautiful lyrical writing:

(Pill bugs) roll up tight and hide in plated suits of armor, roly-poly round.

The illustrations are super and accurate in terms of showing insects etc – there is a suggested reading list and an introduction to the key animals at the end, so whilst this works as a story, there is a good level of factual content here too.

My only slight issue is that it is an American book and so there are lots of US words/some US spellings (like armor instead of armour) in there. I had to look up what a cuke was (a cucumber it turns out) and we know pill bugs as woodlouse here. I think a bit of Anglicisation would have worked better for the UK market. But that’s a minor quibble.

A super book about gardens, and it has definitely inspired me to actually plant something this year (or at least attempt it).

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