Ugly Vegetables

Ugly Vegetables

4.2 4
by Grace Lin

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A little girl can't help but wonder why she and her Mom are growing plants in their garden that are so different from the pretty flowers their neighbors have. Mom says they are growing something better than flowers, but the little girl is not convinced until they harvest the vegetables they have grown, and something unexpected happens ...

Bright, simple

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A little girl can't help but wonder why she and her Mom are growing plants in their garden that are so different from the pretty flowers their neighbors have. Mom says they are growing something better than flowers, but the little girl is not convinced until they harvest the vegetables they have grown, and something unexpected happens ...

Bright, simple illustrations dance across the pages of this exciting debut from a talented young illustrator. Special recipe for Ugly Vegetable Soup included!

Editorial Reviews

Horn Book
While the gardens in her suburban community look like "rainbows of flowers," and "the wind always smelled sweet," the unnamed narrator is disappointed with her family's Chinese vegetable garden. All she sees are "lumpy," "icky yellow," and "thin and green" vegetables, and she wonders why her family doesn't grow flowers instead. Her mother patiently reassures her that the ugly vegetables are better than flowers, telling her to "wait and see." As the plants grow and finally produce vegetables, readers experience vicariously the simple pleasures of gardening. The simply told first-person text is well matched with the lively, color-saturated paintings. With slightly distorted, flattened perspectives and rounded, comforting shapes, Lin's style borders on the naïve with a fresh folklike quality. Each page bristles with movement enhanced by pattern: swirls of blue in the sky; variegated brown and green hues of the trees; imaginative designs on fabric; even the washes of background color on which many of the paintings are set are lightly decorated with such motifs as vine, seed, leaf, or flower shapes, adding energy to the design and the illustrations. Most readers will identify with the narrator's feeling of mild discontent about her family's differences, and some will be introduced to another culture and cuisine. After the vegetables have been harvested, there's a new scent in the air: ugly vegetable soup, which, the young girl says, "seemed to dance in my mouth and laugh all the way down to my stomach." A final page features a glossary/pronunciation guide for the vegetables' names in Chinese as well as a soup recipe. Grace Lin's debut picture book serves up the savory delights of the harvest in a satisfying story. k.f.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this debut children's book, a girl and her mother chart their own course in spring planting--and reap the benefits. The girl narrator is clearly disappointed when, unlike her neighbors who prepare flower gardens, she and her mother plant Chinese vegetables that, her mother insists, are "better than flowers." While the other backyards yield colorful blooms, her garden becomes crowded with "ugly vegetables," lumpy, bumpy and "icky yellow." But when the girl's mother uses them to make a soup, its "magical aroma" attracts neighbors to their door--carrying bouquets of flowers from their gardens. Though the pacing of the text is a bit uneven, the mother's confidence in the garden's success and Lin's message of community togetherness buoy up the narrative. A charming, childlike quality infuses the artwork; boldly hued gouache pictures feature skies and lawns as patterned as the girl's kitchen wallpaper and curtains. For ambitious young gardeners and would-be chefs, an illustrated glossary of the vegetables and their Chinese characters along with a soup recipe conclude the volume. Ages 3-8. (July) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3 A Chinese-American girl and her mother grow a vegetable garden in a neighborhood where everyone else grows flowers. The girl thinks their plants are ugly compared to flowers, but soon learns that vegetables can make a very delicious soup one that the whole neighborhood wants to try. Soon everyone is growing Chinese vegetables as well as flowers. A recipe for "Ugly Vegetable Soup" is included. Lin's brightly colored gouache illustrations perfectly match her story, creating a patchwork-quilt effect as the neighbors' backyards all converge. Families of all kinds engage in all sorts of activities while children play happily together. Each double-page spread is a different color with a different pattern scattered lightly across it, serving as a frame for the illustrations and as background for the text. A lovely, well-formatted book with an enjoyable multicultural story. Judith Constantinides, East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A savory storytime companion to Helena Clare Pittman and Victoria Raymond's Still-Life Stew (1998). In a bright landscape of small houses and backyards, a girl and her mother dig a garden, as do their neighbors. The green shoots come up and grow, and the daughter notices that while the neighbors are cultivating flowers that fill the air with sweetness, her mother is growing ugly dark green leafy things. They are labeled not with pretty seed packets but with Chinese characters. At the end of the season, her mother picks the vegetables, and makes them into a soup that smells so good it brings all the neighbors to their porches looking as if "they were trying to eat the smell." They come to the girl's house bearing gifts of flowers, and mother and daughter invite them all in to share the soup. The next year, mother and daughter grow a few flowers alongside their vegetables, and the neighbors have small plots of vegetables next to their flowerbeds. The gouache paintings emphasize pattern: florals, grasses, stripes, and dots on clothing and rooftops. The colors are of a sunny world, with an emphasis on rose, purple, brown, and a multitude of greens. Pictures of all of the vegetables with their Chinese and English names along with the soup recipe are included. Lin tells her charming story simply, and the pictures reflect its many joys. (Picture book. 4-9

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Product Details

Charlesbridge Publishing, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
New Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
10.42(w) x 8.26(h) x 0.38(d)
390L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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Ugly Vegetables 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is just one of a number of books superbly illustrated and written by Grace Lin (Kite Flying and Dim Sum for Everyone!). Round is a Mooncake: a Book of Shapes and Red as a Dragon are also illustrated by Lin, written by Roseanne Thong in delightful rhyming prose. All five books are a must were a must for our home library and we donated copies to our children¿s school. I particularly appreciated the cultural diversity Lin weaves into her paintings, and this book is no exception. She also has a way of presenting Chinese culture that is refreshing and contemporary. I am Caucasian and two of my four children, now school age, were adopted from China. This delightful collection of books are some of their favorites and have helped them better appreciate and embrace the cultural heritage of their birth country.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wonderful story and illustrations! Sends a great message to kids about diversity... about being different and how a whole neighborhood eventually shares in and appreciates those differences. The illustrations are fabulous with color!