Overview

Hercules, a classroom guinea pig, has a revelation when he watches the first graders grow plants from seeds. He wants to grow things, too! And during summer vacation (spent with the teacher's dad), he gets his chance. With the help of a friendly rabbit, Herky prepares the soil, carefully plants pumpkin seeds, and waits. And waits, and waits. One of the most important things he learns about gardening is patience. It's very hard to go back to school when fall comes—especially because his pumpkins aren't quite ready...

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Overview

Hercules, a classroom guinea pig, has a revelation when he watches the first graders grow plants from seeds. He wants to grow things, too! And during summer vacation (spent with the teacher's dad), he gets his chance. With the help of a friendly rabbit, Herky prepares the soil, carefully plants pumpkin seeds, and waits. And waits, and waits. One of the most important things he learns about gardening is patience. It's very hard to go back to school when fall comes—especially because his pumpkins aren't quite ready yet. But in October, the teacher's dad arrives with a big pumpkin for her class—that just mysteriously grew in his yard! And Herky begins dreaming about next year's garden . . .

Kate Duke has created a funny and charming book that shows not just how seeds grow into plants, but also how you need patience to see a long project through.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Guinea pigs are something of a specialty for Duke (The Guinea Pig ABC; One Guinea Pig Is Not Enough), and her newest one, Hercules, is a real charmer (“You can call me Herky!” he announces in a speech bubble on the opening page). While most classroom guinea pig stories take place during the school year, Duke is more interested in Herky’s extracurricular hobby: growing pumpkins. On “vacation” in the country (a student’s parent’s farm) over the summer, Herky enlists the help of a rabbit named Daisy in putting together a pumpkin patch (never mind that Daisy’s idea of help is to munch leaves and say, “Good job!”). Duke’s story brims with humor of both the classroom and animal-buddy varieties, and her featherlight paintings capture every ounce of Herky’s enthusiasm, impatience, and eventual satisfaction. Ages 5–8. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, July 9, 2012
"Duke’s story brims with humor of both the classroom and animal-buddy varieties, and her featherlight paintings capture every ounce of Herky’s enthusiasm, impatience, and eventual satisfaction."

School LIbrary Journal, June 2012
"Herky is expressively drawn and adorable. This title will join the list of pumpkin classics so popular every fall."
 
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2012
"As Herky says, “…you can’t stay sad for long when you have had a garden”—nor when you have read about Herky and his first gardening experience."

Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
What a delightful picture book! The story and illustrations are terrific and this is one book that I am sure kids will want to hear a few times and look at the illustrations many times. Hercules is a classroom guinea pig and he has a really good life. He is fed, has plenty of water and the kids love him. Herky, as he is called, learns plenty and last fall he learned about Halloween. He saved some pumpkin seeds for later, but did not realize that they would be more than something he could much on until his summer trip. In school Herky watched the students plant seeds which grew to produce green beans and he was bit with the gardening bug. His big chance came when he spent the summer with the teacher's father. Herky meets up with a rabbit named Daisy who helps him create a garden and plant his pumpkin seeds. Our class pet is impatient and wants the seeds to grow immediately. Thank goodness for cool-headed Daisy who helps him wait patiently for the seeds to sprout. The big day arrives and then the tiny shoots turn into big vines with lots of blossoms. They each enjoyed a few pumpkin flowers and watched the birds and insects also peck at and nibble on the growing pumpkins. Herky is not happy to leave his pumpkins, but it is time to go back to school. The ending provides a nice twist. The watercolor illustrations impart plenty of information about gardening from clearing the ground to planting seeds to the first fruits. There is also another lesson about patience which may be the hardest one for Herky to learn. An excellent choice for any young child.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—Hercules is a guinea pig in a first-grade classroom. When the kids make jack-o'-lanterns at Halloween, Herky saves some of the seeds. During the summer he is taken to a farm owned by the teacher's dad. There he befriends the resident rabbit and together they plant the seeds. Then the wait begins. The guinea pig is impatient, while Daisy tells him to "Cool it." To pass the time they tell stories, sing songs, and make up poems. Finally the stalks start growing and make a lush garden. Herky is quite dismayed when birds and bugs arrive and start nibbling on the flowers, but again Daisy is the voice of reason. There is enough for everyone. With the coming of fall, Herky is taken back to the school, and he misses his friend and the pumpkin patch. The farmer shows up in the classroom with a basket of pumpkins, saying he has no idea how they got planted. The students and the guinea pig start the cycle all over again, carving jack-o'-lanterns and saving seeds. The pen-and-ink and watercolor pictures are perfect for the story. Herky is expressively drawn and adorable. This title will join the list of pumpkin classics so popular every fall.—Ieva Bates, Ann Arbor District Library, MI
Kirkus Reviews
Herky (short for Hercules) is one lucky guinea pig--perhaps the only one with his own garden. A first-grade class pet, he enjoys having the kids fawn over him and teach him things. In the spring, after noticing the delicious-looking green bean plants the class cultivated, Herky catches the gardening bug and finds a use for the seeds he squirreled away last Halloween. Summering in the country, Herky puts his escape skills to good use, meets a new rabbit-friend, Daisy, and learns that gardening isn't about instant gratification. Indeed, this is one of the book's greatest assets. Duke has captured the difficulty of waiting for the plants to grow, which many other garden-themed books miss or gloss over. And the garden-isms that Herky enumerates are sure to raise smiles. "A garden is not a place to be angry in." When paired with Duke's watercolor and pen-and-ink artwork, readers certainly won't feel angry, though they will feel empathetic with the adorably impatient guinea pig as he stamps his feet and digs up his seeds to see what they are doing, besides not growing. As Herky says, "…you can't stay sad for long when you have had a garden"--nor when you have read about Herky and his first gardening experience. (Picture book. 3-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780449815205
  • Publisher: RH Childrens Books
  • Publication date: 8/28/2012
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: NOOK Kids
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • File size: 16 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

KATE DUKE has been creating wonderful picture books for more than 25 years. Her best loved tales often include guinea pigs or mice, like Aunt Isabel Tells a Good One, and Guinea Pig ABC. Ms. Duke lives in New Haven, Connecticut.

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