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Mortimer's First Garden

Mortimer's First Garden

4.7 4
by Karma Wilson, Dan Andreasen (Illustrator)

Winter is just over, the sky is gray, and the ground is brown. Little Mortimer Mouse munches on sunflower seeds and longs to see something green.

Upon overhearing the story of how springtime rain and sunshine nurture little seeds to grow into great big green plants, Mortimer is skeptical but decides to plant one of his seeds, just to see if such a miracle really


Winter is just over, the sky is gray, and the ground is brown. Little Mortimer Mouse munches on sunflower seeds and longs to see something green.

Upon overhearing the story of how springtime rain and sunshine nurture little seeds to grow into great big green plants, Mortimer is skeptical but decides to plant one of his seeds, just to see if such a miracle really can happen. Mortimer finds a perfect sport to plant the seed, and then...he waits.

And waits.

And waits.

Impatient, Mortimer thinks nothing is ever going to happen to the little seed. But then something does happen. Something wonderful. Something divine. Something green!

First introduced in the bestselling Mortimer's Christmas Manger, Mortimer Mouse returns with gutso in this inspirational offering that celebrates the miracle of springtime.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The mouse introduced in Mortimer's Christmas Manger continues on his journey of faith and enlightenment. Mortimer can't imagine that seeds have any use beyond the immediate gratification of being eaten, but when he sees the human family in his house plant a garden, he decides to use his last sunflower seed to give it a whirl himself. As in many of Wilson's books, the religious message is explicit. Convinced that "the miracle" won't happen, tempted to dig up the seed and eat it, Mortimer hears the voice of God: "Wait." "Suddenly, even though he was drenched with rain," writes Wilson, "Mortimer felt warm and protected." With hard work and prayer, Mortimer produces a "miracle" sunflower and a bumper crop of seeds, which in turn prompts the book's final teachable moment: "And please, God," says a fat and contented Mortimer, "I wouldn't mind a friend to help me eat these." Andreasen channels the style of Jane Chapman, who illustrated the previous title; the transition will go unremarked. Ages 4-8. (Feb.)

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Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Mortimer Mouse, depressed by winter, longs to see something green. The "big people" in his house, however, have seeds ready for garden time. Mortimer, who loves seeds for eating, cannot believe that putting them in the dirt can miraculously produce many more. But he decides to try with his last seed. Despite many doubts, his seed does finally sprout and grow. Thanking God for this miracle, Mortimer tends his plant patiently. The green plant produces a beautiful yellow sunflower. From it he harvests hundreds of seeds to eat, to plant next spring, even to share. The jacket's naturalistic oil painting of a happy mouse hanging from a mature, bright sunflower promises the best of the story within. Mortimer expresses the emotions of the gardener, as he charmingly displays the actions necessary to tend a plant to maturity and the satisfaction to be derived. This should inspire young gardeners. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 2

The mouse from Mortimer's Christmas Manger (S & S, 2005) is back in a lovely story about spring and growing things. As he is staring outside at a brown landscape and wishing for green, Mortimer overhears a mother and two children talking about a "springtime miracle," discussing planting one small seed and getting back many seeds. He looks at his last precious sunflower seed and decides to plant it. Somewhat dubious about results, he waits and waits and hopes for a miracle. With a little help from God, who counsels him to be patient, Mortimer finally gets results-a tall, glorious sunflower with many seeds to gather, eat, and use for next year's garden. As he cozies down into his bed of seeds, he thanks God and prays for a friend to share his bounty with, and a smiling black spider settles down nearby. This is a beautifully fashioned picture book, with delicate pastel oil illustrations that perfectly convey the changes brought by spring. The faded tan and peach backdrops gradually transform to pale blues and greens, reflecting the warming weather. Mortimer's feelings of doubt and hope are portrayed with great appeal. A fine choice for little gardeners everywhere.-Judith Constantinides, formerly at East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA

Kirkus Reviews
Mortimer the mouse is just about to chomp down on his sunflower seed when he hears "the big people" who share his house talking about gardening. While he laughs at the notion of "throw[ing] perfectly good food in the dirt," he's intrigued at the notion of a "miracle" that will yield many, many more seeds, so he gives it a try. By day three, he's getting impatient, but "a gentle, quiet voice" tells him to "Wait." Recognizing the voice as God-with a theological certainty that comes like a narrative bolt out of the blue-Mortimer waits and reaps predictable dividends. Andreasen provides certifiably cute visual accompaniment to the tale, including the dubious implication that a friendly (vegetarian?) spider will help Mortimer eat his newfound seed wealth. Demands too many leaps of faith. (Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
10.20(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.60(d)
AD340L (what's this?)
Age Range:
3 - 5 Years

Meet the Author

Karma Wilson is the bestselling author of several picture books for Simon & Schuster, including the Bear Books series and Where Is Home, Little Pip? Karma lives in Montana.

Dan Andreasen is the illustrator of numerous picture books, including By the Dawn’s Early Light: The Story of the Star-Spangled Banner by Steven Kroll, which was named an ABA Kids’ Pick of the Lists and a Notable Children’s Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies; A Quiet Place by Douglas Wood; and Sailor Boy Jig by Margaret Wise Brown. He has also authored several picture books, including With a Little Help from Daddy and A Special Day for Mommy. Dan lives with his family in Medina, Ohio.

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Mortimer's First Garden 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
joyful_reader More than 1 year ago
I bought this book for my nephew, and fell in love with it myself. It is a great way to teach children about springtime and nature, while instilling a life lesson about praying, working hard and trusting in God. The fun pictures of Mortimor the Mouse help bring the lesson to life in a way children can understand and enjoy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very good book for both children and parents. It teaches the child about patience and of that good things will come to those who wait.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed the Mortimer Christmas book so much had to get this one too. It is just as good. Teaching children about miracles of God that can be as small as a seed. Also teaches patiences to wait for these miracles to occur. Look forward to more books with Mortimer.
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
It happens every year at about this same time. When February turns to March I begin thinking about spring, summer and gardening. I'm always optimistic, thinking this year nothing will turn brown before it buds and a well tended peony bush will finally burst forth. Mortimer has similar thoughts,,,,,,slight difference - Mortimer is a mouse in this charming story of patience and eventual rewards by Karma Wilson. Every time he looks outside all he sees is brown everywhere and longs for something, anything green. One day he overhears some people talking about planting a garden, actually putting seeds in the ground. Well, "Mortimer giggled at the thought. 'I don't believe a word of it! Seeds are for eating. Who would throw perfectly good food in the dirt?" But, when he heard them say the magic word "green," believing that soon everything would be green, he changed his mind. Mortimer planted his sunflower seed. He carefully chose what he thought was the right spot, then dug and dug. He had to carry water over in an acorn cap but he watered his seed nonetheless. Gardening, he decided was very hard work but it was worth it or was it? Dan Andreasen's illustrations are full of sunshine ( and green), perfectly capturing the colors of spring. After this story youngsters will probably ask for a spade and seeds - enjoy! - Gail Cooke