And the Good Brown Earth

Overview

"This treasure of a book highlights the bonds between the generations and between gardeners and the earth." — SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL

Gram and Joe love to spend time together taking care of the vegetable patch, but it takes a lot of patience. There’s digging time, planting time, weeding time, watering time, even thinking time. Meanwhile, the seasons change, and while Gram does things her way, Joe does things his way. But come harvest, each will ...

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Overview

"This treasure of a book highlights the bonds between the generations and between gardeners and the earth." — SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL

Gram and Joe love to spend time together taking care of the vegetable patch, but it takes a lot of patience. There’s digging time, planting time, weeding time, watering time, even thinking time. Meanwhile, the seasons change, and while Gram does things her way, Joe does things his way. But come harvest, each will find wondrous surprises, thanks to the benevolence of the good brown earth.

Joe and Gram grow a garden, with the help of the good brown earth.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
During a year's worth of visits to the vegetable patch, Gram, her grandson Joe, and the earth all do what they do best. For Gram, that means knowing when it's the right time to plan, plant and tend a garden ("Now's watching time," she says, putting a scarecrow in the ground to guard against the birds). Young Joe, on the other hand, is an expert at finding the fun in everything-throwing dirt and seeds around in the fall, spraying Gram with the garden hose in summer. And when they complete their season-appropriate tasks, "the good brown earth" takes over, "doing what the good brown earth does best," in the words of the book's rolling refrain. Henderson (The Storm) puts lilting repetition to effective use in her prose, but at times gets carried away with the descriptions. On one early spring visit to the garden, "the birds were singing, the trees were flowering, and the rain and the sun were chasing each other across the sky"-all of which Henderson expresses more fluidly in her feathery, intricately textured landscapes. Overall, however, this is a beguilingly soft-spoken invitation to savor the magic of the ever-changing garden and the intergenerational bond between Gram and Joe. Gram is fun-loving but secure in her role as grown-up. It's no wonder Joe feels so free in her presence-whether he's lolling in the spring grass or feasting on late summer blackberries. Ages 3-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
This gentle story, beautifully illustrated in mixed media, shows Gram and young Joe gardening in a rural patch through the year, fall to fall. Each season has its own tasks, such as spading the earth, hoeing, planting, or harvesting, and after each visit, "the good brown earth got on doing what the good brown earth does best." The mixed-media illustrations show the colors and textures of the changing seasons, the animals in and around the garden, the scarecrow she and Joe make to discourage them, and a wintry hat the two placed on a snowman early in the book but which shows up in various spots. Gram is remarkably tolerant and cheerful about the exuberant way Joe digs, gardens, and generally has a great time. And indeed, while Gram has planted in the traditional way, Joe hurls his seeds all around and both gardens come up full of produce which they harvest together. Great for preschoolers who are interested in plants and growth, perfect for nursery school science programs, and a visual treat for families, gardeners or not. 2004, Candlewick Press, Ages 3 to 6.
—Susan Hepler, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-Through the seasons, from late fall ("Now's digging time") until late summer ("Now's gathering time"), Gram and Joe visit the vegetable patch together, and the boy learns by observing, then does things in his own playful way. His grandmother is a patient and avid gardener whose energy and enthusiasm match Joe's joie de vivre. The poetic text, with its repetitive phrases and homey exclamations, flows nicely off the tongue. Soothing brown-toned, veined leaf prints on the endpapers lead into soft paintings that show a wide expanse of rural acreage, the leafless branches of winter, the greening and flowering of spring, the lush foliage of summer, and the jeweled colors of fall. Henderson has achieved a textured look by creatively using paint in crackling and spattering techniques-perhaps adding some oil pastel, as well. The simply drawn figures of Gram and Joe, clearly the focus on story-centered white pages, blend into the panoramic scenes on the full spreads. Perfect for storytime and for one-on-one sharing, this treasure of a book highlights the bonds between the generations and between gardeners and the earth.-Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
As a year turns, Gran and little Joe tend adjacent garden patches-Gran digging, planting careful rows, and methodically tending to business, Joe exuberantly broadcasting his seeds, fooling around with the hose, pulling whatever catches his eye. The passage of time, marked not by months or conventional seasons, but by Gram-designated stretches of thinking, planting, weeding, watering, and resting while "the good brown earth" gets on "with doing what the good brown earth does best," culminates at last in a richly satisfying gathering of berries, vegetables, and one gigantic pumpkin from Gran's tidy garden and delighted Joe's "higglety-pigglety, tangly, FANTASTIC" jungle. Henderson depicts the two gardeners amid pale, impressionistic, increasingly lush plantings, framed by tall grasses and a curvy apple tree; the effect is both intimate and visually lyrical. However Gram and Joe may differ in their methods, their shared pleasure in the bounteous results comes through clearly. (Picture book. 6-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763638412
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 3/11/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 803,716
  • Age range: 3 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.33 (w) x 9.01 (h) x 0.21 (d)

Meet the Author

Kathy Henderson has written several award-winning books, most recently THE STORM, which she also illustrated, and THE BABY DANCES. Of AND THE GOOD BROWN EARTH, she says, "Isn’t it amazing what can happen when you just put a seed in the earth? This story just came springing up out of the ground like the plants in our family vegetable plot, and the seed it took was my youngest child showing me how to do things her way." As well as writing and illustrating, Kathy Henderson works as an artist and printmaker. She has a strong interest in music and sound and has written a number of programs for radio. She lives in North London and has three children.

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