Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

In Our Backyard Garden

In Our Backyard Garden

Eileen Spinelli
Illustrator:  Marcy Ramsey 
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 4 to 8
Simon and Schuster, 2004   ISBN: 0689826664

For one family their back yard is a bit like another room in their house - it is a place where they do all sorts of things all year round. We begin our journey through the year when everyone comes outdoors to plant a tree on the day when the new baby is born. Then there is the day when Mom gives Dad a haircut out under the oak tree, his hair falling onto the grass and providing wonderful nesting materials for the birds.

Later in the year there is a large party in the yard which relatives from the city come to bringing food and friends with them. It is wonderful time though there are a few mishaps, as there always are.

The garden is also the place where arguments bloom along with the tomatoes and where Postman Joe meets, and later falls in love with, Aunt Sissy. In the fall everyone rakes the leaves, and in the winter Aunt Sissy and the little girl of the house run around in the snow in their pajamas.

This wonderful portrait of a year in a country garden touches on so many of the activities that family members share when they are close and do things together. Eileen Spinelli captures the cyclical nature of the garden year; she lets us watch the baby grow; she invites us to a wedding; and we end our visit with another, different kind of tree planting ceremony. Warm, often funny, and superbly written in free verse this picture book will delight young children and those who read to them.