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If Carol Lerner were asked to list three reasons why she started ...
If Carol Lerner were asked to list three reasons why she started writing and illustrating books for children, she would probably say the Morton Arboretum, Joshua, and Jesse. The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois, on the outskirts of Chicago, is one of the few institutions in the country that offers instruc-tion in botanical illustration on a regular basis. Over the years, Ms. Lerner had taken courses in botany, the local flora, birds of the Midwest, and other aspects of nature, but she hesitated to join the illustration class because the members seemed very accomplished. "Finally I gave it a try," she says. I continued attending for the next three years; then I felt ready to do something with my skills. I thought of illustrating children's books because they would offer more variety than strictly scientific illustration. "
Joshua and Jesse are Ms. Lerner's sons, now grown. "Initially my husband, Ralph, and I introduced them to birds and plants, but this realm of experience took such a tremendous grip on their interests and imaginations, they became expert birders [bird-watchers] and very savvy all-around naturalists on their own. All through their childhood years, their curiosity sparked my interest in the natural world."
The first book Ms. Lerner wrote and illustrated was On the Forest Edge. An ecological portrait of the animal and plant life found at the forest edge, it was given an award for Special Artistic Merit by the Friends of American Writers. Ms. Lerner's third, fourth, and fifth books, Seasons of the Tallgrass Prairie, A Biblical Garden, and Pitcher Plants, were named ALA Notable Books, as was Tree Flowers, which she illustrated. Plant Families was named a New York Academy of Sciences Honor Book. Among her recent titles are Cactus, Dumb Cane and Daffodils, A Forest Year and Moonseed and Mistletoe, all of which are NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Trade Books for Children. Her critically acclaimed Backyard Birds of Winter has recently been followed by Backyard Birds Of Summer.
Carol and Ralph Lerner live in Chicago. Summers and weekends are spent at their house in rural Indiana, where they are surrounded by forests and wetlands. "Wild birds are at our doorstep. There's a swamp across the road that is frog heaven. And I finally have enough space to realize the garden of my dreams. I garden with a certain passion." The same passion is evident in Carol Lerner's fine ecological portraits.
Explains how to start your own vegetable garden and how to cope with common problems, describing the round of activities from month to month throughout the year.