Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth


From apple cores to zinnia heads, readers will discover the best ingredients for a successful compost pile!
Kids everywhere are knowledgeable about the environment and climate change. Not only is composting becoming more common in households and residential gardens, but many school gardens feature compost piles, too. But how do you start a compost pile? What’s safe to include? Perfect for an Earth Day focus or year-round reference, this ...
See more details below
$11.33 price
(Save 29%)$15.99 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (13) from $4.24   
  • New (8) from $8.87   
  • Used (5) from $4.24   
Note: Kids' Club Eligible. See More Details.
Sending request ...


From apple cores to zinnia heads, readers will discover the best ingredients for a successful compost pile!
Kids everywhere are knowledgeable about the environment and climate change. Not only is composting becoming more common in households and residential gardens, but many school gardens feature compost piles, too. But how do you start a compost pile? What’s safe to include? Perfect for an Earth Day focus or year-round reference, this inviting book provides all the answers for kids and families looking for simple, child-friendly ways to help the planet.

From the Hardcover edition.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
K-Gr 4—An easy recipe for soil enrichment. Well written in rhyming text, the descriptive phrases are as engaging as a list of, well, garbage might be: "Dirt clods, crumbled/Eggshells crushed/Fruit pulp left behind, all mushed/Grass clippings/Hair snippings/and an Insect or two/Just add to the pot/and let it all rot/into Compost Stew." Collage illustrations, also made of recycled ingredients, reinforce the theme of reusing materials to create something new. As colorful and charming as the compositions are, the human and animal figures are flat and uninspiring. Student environmental groups might use this recipe to expand school recycling efforts and create compost for vegetable and flower gardens, or to give away to community members. Using cafeteria scraps, recycled paper, and grass clippings would teach students how to make this rich, robust stew work for their own school gardens and, literally and figuratively, improve the earth. This book is recommended as a general addition to library collections and a primary selection for in-school environmental education. Use it with Linda Glaser's Garbage Helps Our Garden Grow (Millbrook, 2010), Raymond Bial's A Handful of Dirt (Walker, 2000), or Bianca Lavies's Compost Critters (Dutton, 1993).—Mary Hazelton, Elementary Schools in Warren & Waldoboro, ME
Publishers Weekly
“Environmental chefs,/ here's a recipe for you/ to fix from scratch/ to mix a batch/ of Compost Stew,” invites a girl with curly titian hair. Letters stand for different components of what goes into a compost pile, and Wolff's cut-paper collages depict a multicultural group of kids, as well as a dalmatian and a goose, working together to collect material (“Dirt clods, crumbled,/ Eggshells, crushed/ Fruit pulp left behind, all mushed”): “And when the cooking is complete,/ Mother Earth will/ have a treat,/ dark and crumbly,/ rich and sweet.” An exuberant primer for green-minded kids. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
A rollicking, rhyming alphabetical recipe for making successful compost. Aiming at young readers and even younger listeners, Siddals keeps the tone light while providing easy instructions on how everyone can participate in this eco-friendly activity. Bright pictures in collage created with recycled and found items are not only well-executed but recall the texture of the materials and tactile experience of the characters in the book. Wolff features a diverse cast of people of all ages collecting, saving, hauling and tossing ingredients to "[j]ust add to the pot / and let it all rot / into Compost Stew." Kids will also enjoy spotting the frisky Dalmatian and/or helpful duck on each spread. The title begins with an author's note explaining the roles of lesser-known items and why they make good compost and closes with a "Chef's Note" cautioning all to pay special attention to local regulations as those presented are general recommendations. Consider this recipe an ideal, accessible title to expand composting information for budding environmentalists. (Informational picture book. 3-6)
From the Publisher
Review, CM Magazine, October 15, 2010:
"An imaginative and engaging introduction to the concept of composting."

Review, Through the Looking Glass, June 1, 2010:
"This wonderful rhyming picture book will show children how easy, and how fun, composting can be."

Review, San Francisco Chronicle:
"Bouncy rhymes and busy collage art zip along as everything from apple cores to zinnia heads gets tossed into a rich and rotting soil-bound mix. A potentially heavy-handed message is delivered with a light touch so that you want to start your own waste heap right away. Mission accomplished!"

Review, Washington Post:
"When it comes to promoting environmentalism, there's no harm in starting young....Ashley Wolff's collage-style illustrations, made from newspaper, tea bags and other recycled materials, echo writer Mary McKenna Siddals's message of reducing waste."

Review, Booklist:
"This title highlights a subject rarely covered in youth books and provides a lighthearted introduction to an earth- and kid-friendly activity. The brightly patterned collage artwork featuring a cast of multicultural kids working together will easily draw a young audience."

Compost Stew is beautiful, poetic, evocative—and educational. It provides such vital, important information for children (and adults) to understand and embrace, and to put into practice! This book greatly respects its readers, and I hope it will become as widely read and popular as it deserves. 
–Mollie Katzen, author of Moosewood Cookbook and Pretend Soup

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781582463162
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 3/23/2010
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 272,581
  • Age range: 3 - 7 Years
  • Lexile: AD780L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.10 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

MARY McKENNA SIDDALS is the author of several picture books for the very young, including Millions of Snowflakes. In addition, she has written dozens of children’s stories, articles, poems, and activities appearing in a variety of magazines. A former teacher, she lives in British Columbia, Canada, where she enjoys tending to her own batch of Compost Stew.
ASHLEY WOLFF is the author and/or illustrator of more than sixty children’s books, including Baby Beluga; I Love My Mommy Because; I Love My Daddy Because; Mama’s Milk; Stella and Roy Go Camping; I Call My Grandma Nana; I Call My Grandpa Papa; When Lucy Goes Out Walking; and the beloved Miss Bindergarten series. Ashley wrangles thousands of red wriggler compost worms in her San Francisco backyard garden. She grows flowers, vegetables, and an amazingly prolific persimmon tree.
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Environmental chefs, here’s a recipe for you to fix from scratch to mix a batch of Compost Stew.
Apple cores
Bananas, bruised
Coffee grounds with filters, used
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 18, 2011

    Great Earth Day Read

    It is fun, lively, and educational. I love the illustrations!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)