Secrets of the Garden: Food Chains and the Food Web in Our Backyard

( 2 )

Overview

Alice's family plants a vegetable garden each spring, and this budding naturalist reports all she sees about how the plants grow, what insects come to eat the plants, and what birds and animals come to eat the insects.  It's the food chain, right in her own backyard!

While Alice's narrative is simple and engaging, science concepts are presented in more depth in sidebars by a pair of very knowledgeable (and highly amusing) chickens! Noted science writer Kathleen Weidner ...

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Overview

Alice's family plants a vegetable garden each spring, and this budding naturalist reports all she sees about how the plants grow, what insects come to eat the plants, and what birds and animals come to eat the insects.  It's the food chain, right in her own backyard!

While Alice's narrative is simple and engaging, science concepts are presented in more depth in sidebars by a pair of very knowledgeable (and highly amusing) chickens! Noted science writer Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld knows how to layer information to make it accessible to a wide range of readers and useful for educators. And illustrator Priscilla Lamont's funny, friendly paintings make this a garden everyone will want to explore.

Kids will eat up this wonderful book of backyard science—and perhaps they'll even be inspired to eat their vegetables!

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
As Alice’s family’s vegetable garden grows, Alice learns about seeding, sowing, and the web of life. “Early in spring, Mom planted tomato and green pepper seeds in small pots. She kept them warm indoors by a sunny window. Now her seedlings are ready to go in the garden,” she explains. She converses with her family members via dialogue balloons (“Look at this shiny bug!”), while two highly knowledgeable chickens, Maisy and Daisy, explain concepts like photosynthesis, composting, and food chains. Lamont’s pen-and-watercolor art is filled with humorous, cozy, and informative details. This intimate portrait of a single garden points to how all ecosystems are connected. Ages 5–up. (Feb.)
School Library Journal
Gr 1–4—Alice explains how she and her family plant, tend, and harvest vegetables in their large backyard garden. She and her brother wait impatiently for the first sprouts to appear and watch the seedlings mature. Soon Alice realizes that humans aren't the only ones ready to enjoy the crops. Rabbits, mice, and insects also eat plants, but sometimes they end up as food for other animals. Maisy and Daisy, the family's chickens, use visual aids to identify various food chains in the garden and show how they contribute to a backyard food web. Zoehfeld stresses the role of plants as the first link in food chains and explains the special role worms play in the continuing cycle. Her clear, conversational style conveys valuable information without overwhelming readers. Lamont's cheerful watercolor illustrations provide additional details on topics such as seedling identification and edible parts of plants. The depictions of the growing crops and the interactions of family members with one another and their garden exude positive energy. The conversations of all of the characters, including the chickens, are encapsulated in speech balloons. The book will raise readers' awareness of backyard food chains and encourage some students to try gardening themselves.—Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato
Kirkus Reviews
Zoehfeld's latest is a wonderfully informative and enjoyable journey through one family's backyard garden, from spring planting to fall harvest. Covering a dazzling array of topics, the author still manages to hold onto a story line that will draw readers in and allow them to experience both the good and the bad right along with narrator Alice. They will wait for the seeds to sprout and worry along with Alice about the nibbles that are missing from a few plants. Taking some time to be quiet in the garden, Alice discovers that it is home to many different animals, some beneficial and some not, and that the garden plants are the beginnings of many food chains, all interconnected in a web. Autumn sees the family putting up their vegetables so that they can enjoy the harvest throughout the winter, while they dream and plan their next garden. The text comes alive through Lamont's pen-and-watercolor illustrations, which reinforce the learning while entertaining at the same time--the humans are not the only ones doing the educating. A funny pair of chickens appears throughout, providing more in-depth information about lots of topics, including photosynthesis, composting, common garden insects, food chains and the parts of the plants that people eat. Sure to become a standard go-to for elementary teachers and gardeners alike, this is bound to spark some backyard explorations. (Informational picture book. 4-9)
From the Publisher
Starred Review, School Library Journal, February 1, 2012:
“The book will raise readers’ awareness of backyard food chains and encourage some students to try gardening themselves.”

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2011:
"Zoehfeld’s latest is a wonderfully informative and enjoyable journey through one family’s backyard garden, from spring planting to fall harvest. Covering a dazzling array of topics, the author still manages to hold onto a story line that will draw readers in and allow them to experience both the good and the bad right along with narrator Alice. Sure to become a standard go-to for elementary teachers and gardeners alike, this is bound to spark some backyard explorations."

Booklist, March 15, 2012:
"A natural for young gardeners, this picture book is also an appealing addition to classroom units on food chains."

Publishers Weekly, January 9, 2012:
"Filled with humorous, cozy, and informative details. This intimate portrait of a single garden points to how all ecosystems are connected."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780517709900
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 2/28/2012
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 568,359
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.10 (w) x 10.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

KATHLEEN WEIDNER ZOEHFELD was a children's book editor for more than 10 years before becoming a full-time writer. She has published more than 60 books for children, most about animals and natural history.

PRISCILLA LAMONT has illustrated dozens of books, including the Animal Rescue Team books by Sue Stauffacher, and Goose and Duck by Jean Craighead George. Whether drawing human or animal characters, Priscilla always likes to include some humor.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2013

    Science teacher

    Great book! I teach science and am in charge of the school garden. So this book kills 2 birds with one stone.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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