Growing Good Kids Book Awards

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Growing Good Kids – Excellence in Children’s Literature Book Awards Program

The Junior Master Gardener Program and the American Horticultural Society honor engaging, inspiring works of plant, garden and ecology-themed children’s literature through the “Growing Good Kids – Excellence in Children’s Literature Awards” Program.

All Book Award Winners:

2014

Current Winner:

Unveiled July 18th at the AHS National Children & Youth Garden Symposium hosted at the Columbus, Ohio

What’s in the Garden?

By Marianne Berkes
Illustrated by Cris Arbo

Ages 8-12

Synopsis:

Good food doesn’t begin on a store shelf with a box. It comes from a garden bursting with life, color, sounds, smells, sunshine, moisture, birds, and bees! Healthy food becomes much more interesting when children know where they come from. So what’s in the garden? Kids will find a variety fruits and vegetables, and a tasty, kid-friendly recipe for each one to start a lifetime of good eating. A “food for thought” section presents interesting facts about each fruit and vegetable, and a “how does your garden grow?” section explains facts about gardening and the parts of plants. Author Marianne Berkes consulted with nutritionists and personally made every recipe in the book, to be sure they are both tasty and kid-friendly.

Past Winners:

2013

The 2013 Growing Good Kids Book Award Winners:

Unveiled July 12th at the AHS National Children & Youth Garden Symposium hosted at the Denver Botanical Gardens

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Our School Garden!

By Rick Swann
Illustrated by Christy Hale

Ages 8-12

Synopsis:

New city. New school. Michael is feeling all alone—until he discovers the school garden! There’s so many ways to learn, and so much work to do. Taste a leaf? Mmm, nice and tangy hot. Dig for bugs? “Roly-poly!” he yells. But the garden is much more than activities outdoors: making school garden stone soup, writing Found Poems and solving garden riddles, getting involved in community projects such as Harvest Day, food bank donations, and spring plant sales. Each season creates a new way to learn, explore, discover and make friends.

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Molly’s Organic Farm

By Carol Malnor and Trina Hunner
Illustrated by Trina Hunner

Ages 8-12

Synopsis:

Whoosh…the wind blows open a creaky gate. Inquisitive and mischievous, a homeless little cat scampers through—and suddenly finds herself in the wondrous world of an organic farm! Affectionately named “Molly” by the farmers who discover her, she romps, naps, and hunts among the vegetables. Seen through Molly’s eyes, the reader discovers the interplay of nature that grows wholesome food. But what will happen to Molly when winter comes? Based on a true story, Molly will touch children’s hearts while introducing them to plants and the key elements of growing food organically. Standards-based science concepts and activities at the end of the book expand the message of the story.

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First Peas to the Table

By Susan Grigsby
Illustrated by Nicole Tadgell

Ages 8-12

Synopsis:

Maya loves contests, so she is excited when her teacher announces that her class will plant a garden like Thomas Jefferson’s. They’ll also have a First Peas to the Table contest just like Jefferson and his neighbors had. Maya plants her pea seeds with a secret head start, found in Thomas Jefferson’s Garden Book. But her friend Shakayla has plans of her own for winning the contest.

2012

The 2012 Growing Good Kids Book Award Winners:

Unveiled July 20th at the AHS National Children & Youth Garden Symposium hosted in Alexandria, Virginia

The Mangrove Tree

By Susan L. Roth & Cindy Trumbore

Ages 4-12

Synopsis:

For a long time, the people of Hargigo, a village in the tiny African country, were living without enough food for themselves and their animals. The families were hungry, and their goats and sheep were hungry too. Then along came a scientist, Dr. Gordon Sato, who helped change their lives for the better. And it all started with some special trees.  With alternating verse and prose passages, The Mangrove Tree invites readers to discover how Dr. Sato’s mangrove tree-planting project transformed an impoverished village into a self-sufficient community. This fascinating story is a celebration of creativity, hard work—and all those mangrove trees that were planted by the sea!

Meadowlands: A Wetland Survival Story

By Thomas F. Yezerski

Ages 8-12

Synopsis:

The 20,000 acres of wetlands in New Jersey now known as the Meadowlands were once home to hundreds of species of plants and animals. But in the four hundred years since European explorers first arrived in the Meadowlands, people have dammed up, drained, built over, and polluted this formerly vibrant ecosystem—and all but destroyed it. Still, signs of life remain—under bridges, on the edges of parking lots, and beside train tracks. Slowly but surely, with help from activist groups, government organizations, and ordinary people, the resilient creatures of the Meadowlands are making a comeback, and the wetlands are recovering.

Planting the Wild Gardens

By Kathryn O. Galbraith
Illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin

Ages 8-12

Synopsis:

A farmer and her son plant vegetables in their garden, and the wind carries a few seeds away. Birds and animals may carry some along with them on their travels. Sometimes the rain washes them away to a new and unexpected location. And sometimes something more extraordinary occurs, as in when the pods of the Scotch Broom plant open explosively in the summer heat, scattering seed everywhere like popcorn. Year-round, we all play a role in the dispersal of seeds throughout our landscape, planting the wild garden together.

2011

The 2011 Growing Good Kids Book Award Winners:

Unveiled July 22nd at the AHS National Children & Youth Garden Symposium hosted at Michigan State University

Water, Weed and Wait

By Edith Hope Fine & Angela Demos Halpin
Illustrated by Colleen Madden

Ages 8-12

Synopsis:

For a long time, the people of Hargigo, a village in the tiny African country, were living without enough food for themselves and their animals. The families were hungry, and their goats and sheep were hungry too. Then along came a scientist, Dr. Gordon Sato, who helped change their lives for the better. And it all started with some special trees.  With alternating verse and prose passages, The Mangrove Tree invites readers to discover how Dr. Sato’s mangrove tree-planting project transformed an impoverished village into a self-sufficient community. This fascinating story is a celebration of creativity, hard work—and all those mangrove trees that were planted by the sea!

Nibbles

By Charlotte Midleton

Ages 4-12

Synopsis:

The guinea pigs of Dandeville love munching dandelion leaves so much that slowly but surely dandelions are disappearing all over town. Soon there is only one dandelion left! A little guinea pig named Nibbles finds this last dandelion right outside his window. What should he do? Nibbles finds a way to save the day—and the dandelions—in the green tale, which is captured in unique mixed-media art.

In the Garden with Dr. Carver

By Susan Grisby
Illustrated by Nicole Tadgell

Ages 8-12

Synopsis:

Sally is a young girl living in rural Alabama in the early 1900s, a time when people were struggling to grow food in soil that had been depleted by years of cotton production. One day, Dr. George Washington Carver shows up to help the grownups with their farms and the children with their school garden. He teaches them how to restore the soil and respect the balance of nature. He even prepares a delicious lunch made of plants, including “chicken” made from peanuts. And Sally never forgets the lessons this wise man leaves in her heart and mind. Susan Grigsby’s warm story shines new light on an African American scientist who was ahead of his time.

 

2010

The 2010 Growing Good Kids Book Award Winners:

Unveiled on July 24th at the AHS National Children & Youth Garden Symposium hosted at the Pasadena, California

Bring Me Some Apples and I’ll Make You a Pie

By Robbin Gourley

Ages 8-12

Synopsis:

With lyrical text and glorious watercolor illustrations, this very special book traces the childhood roots of Edna Lewis and her appreciation for the bounties of nature. The story follows Edna from early spring through the growing season to a family dinner celebrating a successful harvest. Edna and her family lived by the seasons, growing and harvesting nature’s gifts. When she grew up she moved to New York City where she became a famous chef. An award-winning pioneer in her own right, Edna never forgot the lessons she learned as a child.

The Busy Tree

By Jennifer Ward
Illustrated by Lisa Falkenstem

Ages 4-12

Synopsis:

Spectacular illustrations rendered in oil paint, and a rhyming text that describes a tree’s activities from its roots to its branches, introduce young readers to the amazing activities that go on in a tree. Acorns nibbled by chipmunks, ants scurrying across a trunk, a spider spinning a web, leaves “breathing out air for all to breathe in”–everything adds up to a “busy tree” for all to “come and see.”

The Curious Garden

By Peter Brown

Ages 4-12

Synopsis:

One boy’s quest for a greener word…one garden at a time. While out exploring one day, a little boy named Liam discovers a struggling garden and decides to take care of it. As time passes, the garden spreads throughout the dark, gray city, transforming it into a lush, green world.This is an enchanting tale with environmental themes and breathtaking illustrations that become more vibrant as the garden blooms. Red-headed Liam can also be spotted on every page, adding a clever seek-and-find element to this captivating picture book.

 

Our Shadow Garden

By Cherie Foster Colburn Ages 8-12

Synopsis:

Our Shadow Garden tells the story of a beloved grandmother who becomes sick. The illness prevents her from being out in the sun where she loves to garden. Her husband and her grandchild try hard to make her feel better; they send her cards and fresh flowers, but nothing makes her happy. Together they come up with a plan to transform her garden into a night blooming oasis, a place where she can be with the plants that bring her so much joy. Our Shadow Garden is the story of a family enchanted by the healing power of the night garden, a true gift of love.

2009

The 2009 Growing Good Kids Book Award Winners:

Unveiled on July 24th at the AHS National Children & Youth Garden Symposium hosted at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens

Apple-Pip Princess

By Jane Ray

Ages 4-12

Synopsis:

Once there was a kingdom full of laughter, happiness, trees, and birdsong. But when the queen dies, the land becomes quiet and barren, and everyone is filled with sadness. What will make the kingdom bloom again? Can Serenity, the youngest of three princesses, bring hope and life back to her kingdom with a single apple pip — a precious seed left to her by her mother? This original fairy tale is brought to life and exquisitely illustrated by the internationally renowned Jane Ray.

Flip, Float, Fly: Seeds on the Move

By JoAnn Early Macken
Illustrated by Pam Paparone 
Age 4-10

Synopsis:

A gust of wind lifts a maple seed, sending it spinning like a shiny green helicopter through the sky. Where will it land? From splashing away in a raindrop to scurrying with scampering squirrels to hitching rides on your sleeves and socks, seeds have many ingenious ways of traveling to new places, growing roots, and beginning the cycle again.

Big Yellow Sunflower

By Frances Barry

Age 3-8

Synopsis:

A seed is falling to the ground. What will it be? Turn the shaped pages as a mole, a worm, a snail, a bird, a bee, and other creatures watch the seed take root and sprout up through the soil. As each page fans out revealing a bright splash of yellow, a gigantic sunflower unfolds in a brilliant display. Explore the wonders of things that grow!

2008

The 2008 Growing Good Kids Book Award Winner:

Unveiled on July 26th at the AHS National Children & Youth Garden Symposium hosted at The University of Delaware

If I Were a Tree

By Dar Hosta

Ages 4-12

Synopsis:

In If I Were A Tree, collage artist, Dar Hosta, brings trees alive with vibrant color and cut paper.  She pays homage to their importance in our day to day lives, and encourages thoughtful readers to imagine how it would be to be a tree. Also included are interesting tree facts, as well as a diagram that names the basic parts of a tree.So, how would it be if you were a tree?

Mother Earth and Her Children

By Sybil Von Olfers & Sieglinde Schoen-Smith
Illustrated by Jack Zipes

Ages 4-12

Synopsis:

 As Spring approaches, Mother Earth wakes her sleepy children. Deep below the earth, the children yawn and stretch. They dust off the bumblebees, scrub the beetles, paint splendid new coats on the ladybugs, and rouse the caterpillars from their cocoons then emerge from earth to become flowers of Spring. In rhyming verse and vibrant illustrations, this entrancing story touches on such themes as rejuvenation and the passing of the seasons, helping young children understand the circle of life.

The Old Tree

By Ruth Brown

Ages 4-12

Synopsis:

Deep in the forest one morning, Pigeon Post notices a huge X on the trunk of the old tree. All the tree’s residents have a different theory about whom is to blame, until Captain Crow solves the mystery — but can they stop their quarreling before it’s too late? This delightful tale of cooperation and conservation, complemented by luminous illustrations, is sure to engage readers from the start of the story to the wonderful pop-up tree on the final spread.”

The Runaway Garden

By Jeffery L. Schatzer
Illustrated by Jeffery Ebbeler

Ages 4-12

Synopsis:

What made the snap beans snap?

How did the berries get into a jam?

What happened to the cauliflower’s head?

Read along as Grandpa spins a tale about the night that all the plants in the garden get up and run away. At first they think running away is fun, but it isn’t long before things go terribly wrong.

2007

The 2007 Growing Good Kids Book Award Winners:

Unveiled on July 21st at the AHS National Children & Youth Garden Symposium hosted in Chaska, Minnestoa

A Seed Is Sleepy

By Dianna Hutts Aston 
llustrated by Sylvia Long

Ages 4-12

Synopsis:

“A seed is sleepy. It lies there, tucked inside its flower, on its cone, or beneath the soil. Snug. Still.”  Poetic in voice and elegant in design, A Seed is Sleepy is a gorgeous and informative introduction to seeds that is equally at home being read on a parent’s lap as in a classroom reading circle.

Josias, Hold the Book

By Jennifer Riesmeter Elvgreen  
Illustrated by Nicole Tadgell 

Age 4-12

Synopsis:

This moving story of a Haitian boy determined to make his garden grow is brought to lifethrough luminous watercolor illustrations. Every morning Josias is hard at work in the family’s garden under the hot sun. His friend asks,” When will you join us and hold the book?” With his garden failing, Josias has no time to learn how to read and write. There may not be enough food for his family. Soon, Josias realizes a book might hold the solution to his problem.

Once Around the Sun

By Bobbi Katz  
Illustrated by LeUyen Pham 

Age 4-12

Synopsis:

Children don’t need a calendar to tell them which season it is. Every month has its own distinct clues, like in September “when yellow pencils in brand-new eraser hats / bravely wait on perfect points.” In a dozen unforgettable poems, this fresh yet nostalgic collection captures the excitement of each season, spinning us once around the sun – twelve months, four seasons, one amazing year.
2006

The 2006 Growing Good Kids Book Award Winner:

Unveiled on July 29th at the AHS National Children & Youth Garden Symposium hosted in St. Louis, Missouri

Leaf Man

By Lois Ehlert 

Ages 4-12

Synopsis:

Fall has come, the wind is gusting, and Leaf Man is on the move. Is he drifting east, over the marsh and ducks and geese? Or is he heading west, above the orchards, prairie meadows, and spotted cows? No one’s quite sure, but this much is certain: A Leaf  Man’s got to go where the wind blows.

With illustrations made from actual fall leaves and die-cut pages on every spread that reveal gorgeous landscape vistas, here is a playful, whimsical, and evocative book that celebrates the natural world and the rich imaginative life of children.

Earth Mother

By Ellen Jackson Leo & Diane Dillon

Age 4-12

Synopsis:

“Earth Mother awakes with the dawn. As she walks the land, swims the sea, and climbs the mountains, nurturing all of creation, she comes across Man, Frog, and Mosquito. They each give her thanks for natures’s bounty, yet can’t help but give her advice about making their lives better. Everybody’s got an opinion, it seems, and Earth Mother is amused when it becomes clear that the circle of life is not without a healthy dose of comic humor. ”

Miss Ladybird’s Wildflowers

By Kathi Appelt  

Illustrated by Joy Fisher Hein Age 4-12

Synopsis:

Bluebonnets and lady’s slippers, larkspurs and blazing stars, black-eyed Susan and Granny’s nightcaps. From a lonely childhood in the Piney Woods of East Texas to an exciting life in the White House, Lady Bird Johnson loved these wildflowers with all her heart. They were her companions in her youth,greeting her everywhere as she explored wild forests, bayous, and hills. Later, as First Lady, she sought to bring the beauty of wildflowers to America’s cities and highways.A warm and engaging look at the life of a great First Lady, Appelt tells the story behind Lady Bird Johnson’s environmental vision, and Hein’s colorful wildflowers burst from every page, inviting us to share in Lady Bird’s love for natural beauty.

Our Apple Tree

By Gorel Kristina Naslund

Illustrated by Kristina Digman 

Age 4-12

Synopsis:

Here’s a whimsical and very useful look at the lifecycle of the apple tree. With two helpful tree sprites to guide them, readers travel from spring, when the apple tree blossoms, through summer, when the fruit grows, to fall and the harvest. Along the way, they learn about the life of the tree and some of the animals—from insects that pollinate the flowers to deer that eat the fallen fruit—that visit. With lovely, delicate illustrations this is an excellent choice for the classroom–and the garden!

The Tree Farmer

By Chuck Leavell & Nicholas Cravotta
Illustrated by Rebecca Bleau 

Age 8-12

Synopsis:

A grandfather who owns a tree farm takes his grandson on a magical journey through the forest, where trees become musical instruments, books, a baby’s crib and more. They story explains the vital role that trees play in our lives, providing us with the wood for our homes, furniture and other products– and mankind’s responsibility to protect and care for them. Co-authored by Chuck Leavell, musician, tree farmer, conservationist and long time keyboardist for the Rolling Stones.

2005 - Growing Good Kids Award Classics