Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

First Peas to the Table

First Peas to the Table

Susan Grigsby
Illustrator:  Nicole Tadgell 
Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Albert Whitman & Company, 2012   ISBN: 978-0807524527

It is February, and Ms. Marcia has decided that this year her students are going to plant “a garden like Thomas Jefferson’s.” Each student is going to grow peas from seed, and the first student who is able to fill a bowl with his or her shelled peas will win a contest. Ms. Garcia explains that Thomas Jefferson and his neighbors used to hold just such a contest every spring.

Maya and her classmates keep a journal about their pea experiments, just like Jefferson did in his Garden Book. After she is given her seeds, Maya decides to try one of Jefferson’s gardening tips: she soaks her seeds in water for twenty-four hours before she plants them. She has high hopes that this will give her seeds the start they need to grow fast.

Maya waters her seeds diligently four times day, but nothing happens. After two weeks, she checks on the seeds and finds out that they have rotted in the overly wet soil. Maya is going to have to start all over again, and she is worried that her seeds will be slow to germinate and grow.

Thomas Jefferson firmly believed that agriculture is “the crown of all other sciences,” and that it was imperative for Americans to experiment so that they could grow the best and most fruitful plants.

In this book the author combines a little history, some botany, and a story, to give young readers an interesting gardening tale. Maya not only learns how to grow peas from seed successfully, she also learns a valuable lesson about friendship.

At the back of the book the author provides readers with further information about Thomas Jefferson and his passion for gardening.