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Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table

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Overview


Will Allen is no ordinary farmer. A former basketball star, he's as tall as his truck, and he can hold a cabbage, or a basketball, in one hand. But what is most special about Farmer Will is that he can see what others can't see. When he looked at an abandoned city lot he saw a huge table, big enough to feed the whole world. No space, no problem. Poor soil, there's a solution. Need help, found it. Farmer Will is a genius in solving problems. In 2008, the MacArthur Foundation named him one. Jacqueline Briggs ...
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Overview


Will Allen is no ordinary farmer. A former basketball star, he's as tall as his truck, and he can hold a cabbage, or a basketball, in one hand. But what is most special about Farmer Will is that he can see what others can't see. When he looked at an abandoned city lot he saw a huge table, big enough to feed the whole world. No space, no problem. Poor soil, there's a solution. Need help, found it. Farmer Will is a genius in solving problems. In 2008, the MacArthur Foundation named him one. Jacqueline Briggs Martin, author of the Caldecott winner, Snowflake Bentley, tells the inspiring story of an innovator, educator, and community builder. Combined with artist Eric Larkin's striking artwork, readers will share Will Allen’s optimism and determination to bring good food to every table.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

* 2014 Notable Children's Book, American Library Association
* CCBC Choices, Cooperative Children’s Book Center
* "Best Books 2013 Nonfiction," School Library Journal
* “100 Titles for Reading and Sharing 2013," New York Public Library
* “Top 10 Sustainability Title 2013,” Booklist
* “Top 10 Crafts & Gardening Title for Youth,” Booklist
* "15 Books For Future Foodies," Food Tank: The Food Think Tank

“The idea of farming as a community builder…comes across clearly in the book.”
— "Starred" review, Booklist

"This engaging introduction to the work of Will Allen and his organization, Growing Power, should stimulate interest in gardening in schools, homes, and communities... Larkin’s energetic illustrations reflect both hard work outdoors and the delicious results on a table loaded with good food."
— "Starred" review, School Library Journal

"A timely topic for eco-minded youngsters and future agriculturalists."
—"Best Books 2013 Nonfiction," School Library Journal

“Will Allen can see / what others can’t see. / When he sees kids, he sees farmers." Martin begins and ends with this positive premise. In between, she sketches salient events that stoked Allen’s commitment to empowering people to grow their own food. Raised in a food-loving family that grew and shared its own, Will eschewed weeding and picking for college and a move to Belgium to play pro basketball, where he continued gardening on the side. He brought an acumen for growing veggies home to Milwaukee and saw that “fresh vegetables / were as scarce in the city / as trout in the desert.” Will bought a polluted city lot and created compost from food waste, aided by red wiggler worms. He taught kids and teens to farm and traveled the world with his message. Martin’s verse text, laced with word bursts in ebullient display type, engages both readers and listeners. In his picture-book debut, Larkin provides mixed-media cityscapes that, eventually, brim with the fruits of Allen’s labor and match Will’s exuberance and spirit of community. This worthy collaboration reveals how one man’s vision of food for all has inspired an amazing life of service.”
Kirkus, "Featured Kids' Book Review"

“This lively introduction to Will Allen’s groundbreaking work (for which he’s received a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” grant) features a buoyant narrative by Jacqueline Briggs Martin set against Eric-Shabazz Larkin’s energetic illustrations. It’s impossible not to be inspired by their account of the creativity of Will’s venture and the hope inherent in its success.”
—Cooperative Children’s Book Center, “Recommended Book of the Week"

“The book is a beautiful tribute not just to its hero Will Allen but also to the right of every child to have access to good, healthy, cheap food. The ultimate picture book about muncha muncha muncha...While we talk about the rise in obesity levels in the United States, it just makes sense to talk about how economics affect access to healthy alternatives. And part of what makes Farmer Will Allen such a good story is that it draws that connection without getting anywhere near a soapbox...Fun and informative by turns, raise a carrot or cabbage in honor of this awesome dude and his equally awesome tale."
—Elizabeth Bird, School Library Journal’s “Fuse #8 Production” Blog

“Rating: Outstanding. Will Allen deserves this compelling biography so aptly rendered by author Jacqueline Briggs Martin and illustrator Eric-Shabazz Larkin’s ink and pen artistry…The use of questions (e.g., “But how could Will farm in the middle of pavement and parking lots?”) and of large colorful fonts to emphasize key phrases (e.g., Fish. Water. Sprouts. Farm Machine) provide a conversational tone that is further brought to life by thoughtful and vibrant illustrations of multicultural communities and the nutritious foods they are growing. An afterword from Allen about good food and good farming, an author’s note about the power of one person to affect so much change, and a current, concise list of resources finish off this inspiring story. Readers to Eaters Books has another winning title on their hands.
Bayviews, Association of Children's Librarians of Northern California

"An inspiring non-fiction picturebook...The text is formatted as an engaging narrative punctuated by questions, dialog, and information. The illustrations add enthusiastic color mixed in bold patches and active linework to create lovely textured backgrounds that subtly become more saturated over the course of the story. The characters stand out as almost flat with cartoon-like simplicity that allows them to shift dynamically from page to page, creating an almost universal field of helping hands. Concluding with the motivational question, “How big will YOUR table be?”
Reading Today, International Reading Association

“The text is clear, concise, informative and lively. The illustrations expand upon the text and just naturally seem to draw in the reader… It is ideal for the emerging reader, the older reluctant reader, and also for a middle school or high school classroom or community group discussion of urban farming, community cooperation, and role models…Both text and illustrations encourage discussion. Every time I open this book, I see and read more and more.”
—CLCD, Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database

Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table beautifully captures his ambitious belief in growing the next generation of alternative farmers, good eaters, and community self-reliance. This book is an ideal companion for school garden educators and for parents wanting to make gardening relevant to kids. I'd also recommend it for social change activists since the book makes complex social enterprise ideas into practical, tactile steps.”
—Richard McCarthy, Executive Director, Slow Food USA

Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table is an inspirational story that highlights the importance of healthy, homegrown food and the importance of civic engagement. Will Allen’s story serves as an educational tool for children to recognize how important it is to be able to access healthy food and revitalize urban spaces. Will is a champion for this message, and is a living example of how one person can change a city.”
—Mayor Tom Barrett, Milwaukee

"[Will had] seen that fresh vegetables were as scarce in the city as trout in the desert. Will believed everyone, everywhere, had a right to good food. But how could Will farm in the middle of pavement and parking lots?"
— from the book

Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
How former basketball star Will Allen turns a vision into reality is the subject of this lively and engaging picture book biography. As Allen was beginning his professional basketball career in Belgium, he was quite sure he never wanted to weed or work in a garden again. Years later in Milwaukee, as he looked upon an abandoned plot of land with six empty greenhouses, he had a vision of kids "sitting at his table, eating his vegetables." His vision grew into Growing Power, which has revolutionized urban farming. Intrigue and excitement builds in Martin's deftly written, upbeat text as Allen expands his farm and its concept— first locally, then nationally, and then internationally. The text is clear, concise, informative, and lively. The illustrations expand upon the text and just naturally seem to draw in the reader. The layout is welcoming. Chapter headings let the reader know what will be discussed in the very short (often two pages) chapters. It is ideal for the emerging reader, the older reluctant reader, and also for a middle school or high school classroom or community group discussion of urban farming, community cooperation, and role models. Do not miss the illustration of the Statue of Liberty with vegetables in hand and Will Allen, who had been so large in prior illustrations, waving to her from a rooftop garden. Both text and illustrations encourage discussion. Every time I open this book, I see and read more and more. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
School Library Journal
★ 12/01/2013
Gr 3–6—This engaging introduction to the work of Will Allen and his organization, Growing Power, should stimulate interest in gardening in schools, homes, and communities. After playing basketball professionally in Belgium, Allen settled in Wisconsin. He bought a Milwaukee city lot complete with empty greenhouses. With the help of friends and neighbors, he improved the soil through composting and expanded the growing spaces. Recipient of a MacArthur "Genius Grant," Allen has taken his message of growing and serving food locally across the United States and to other countries. Visitors from around the world come to the Milwaukee farm. Larkin's energetic illustrations reflect both hard work outdoors and the delicious results on a table loaded with good food. In a final spread, Allen waves from a rooftop garden to the Statue of Liberty, who is holding aloft a bunch of beets and cradling a basket of vegetables in her arm. His afterword urges readers to farm wherever they are and exudes the enthusiasm that has inspired others to join him. Martin includes a fine list of resources to assist prospective gardeners.—Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato
Kirkus Reviews
2013-09-15
Martin (Snowflake Bentley, 1998, etc.) shares the real-life story of Will Allen, innovative farmer and founder of Growing Power, an urban farm in Milwaukee. "Will Allen can see / what others can't see. / When he sees kids, he sees farmers." Martin begins and ends with this positive premise. In between, she sketches salient events that stoked Allen's commitment to empowering people to grow their own food. Raised in a food-loving family that grew and shared its own, Will eschewed weeding and picking for college and a move to Belgium to play pro basketball, where he continued gardening on the side. He brought an acumen for growing veggies home to Milwaukee and saw that "fresh vegetables / were as scarce in the city / as trout in the desert." Will bought a polluted city lot and created compost from food waste, aided by red wiggler worms. He taught kids and teens to farm and traveled the world with his message. Martin's verse text, laced with word bursts in ebullient display type, engages both readers and listeners. In his picture-book debut, Larkin provides mixed-media cityscapes that, eventually, brim with the fruits of Allen's labor and match Will's exuberance and spirit of community. From the small press Readers to Eaters, this worthy collaboration reveals how one man's vision of food for all has inspired an amazing life of service. (afterword by Will Allen, author's note, bibliography of resource materials) (Picture book/biography. 6-11)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780983661535
  • Publisher: Readers to Eaters
  • Publication date: 9/10/2013
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 291,405
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: AD770L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author


Jacqueline Briggs Martin is the author of Snowflake Bentley, winner of the Caldecott Medal. Her last book,The Chiru of High Tibet, was named “Best Book of 2010" by Smithsonian Magazine and Kirkus Review. Other notable mentions include ALA Notables, a Golden Kite Honor Award, Lupine Awards from the Maine Library Association, and four inclusions on the Blue Ribbon List of the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books. She has taught creative writing at Hamline College and University of Iowa Summer Writing Festival. She grew up on a farm in Maine and now lives in Mt. Vernon, Iowa. Learn more about Jackie at jacquelinebriggsmartin.com.

Eric-Shabazz Larkin is a film maker, fine artist, and a creative director in advertising. He is also a founder of the Creative School of Thought, a group of artists that produce content for public art and social change. A native of Virginia, he lives in New York City. This is his first book for children. Learn more about Eric-Shabazz at whateveriwanttobe.com.

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Read an Excerpt


Is Will Allen done?
Never!

"We need fifty million more people growing food on porches, in pots, in side yard," he says.
Will is always looking for new ways to make the table bigger—
more schoolyard plots,
a vertical farm that's five stories high,
farms in empty factories or warehouses.

Will Allen dreams of a day when city farms are as common as streetlights,
and every table is covered with good food.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2013

    I can't say enough about the importance of food literacy. This b

    I can't say enough about the importance of food literacy. This book is a very imaginative look at the world of eating healthy in a way that sounds nothing like our parent's saying, "EAT YOUR VEGGIES."
    Instead the book seeks to inspire people to grow food. To love food. Real food. Vegetables. Fruits. And the spirit of entrepreneurship with food.

    The images are beautiful, full of texture and color. There are no flat surfaces in this book. the illustrator draws on crumpled paper bags, he paints on wood and stone. In the end it all comes together as a beautiful masterpiece.
    - Eric Anthony

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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