The Junior Master Gardener program and the American Horticultural Society have named their 2020 “Growing Good Kids” Excellence in Children’s Literature Awards Program, and a Texas author is among them.
The Junior Master Gardener program is an international youth gardening program, engaging children in hands-on group and individual learning experiences that foster a love of gardening, develop an appreciation for the environment, and cultivate the mind.
The “Growing Good Kids” Excellence in Children’s Literature Awards Program is an annual awards program recognizing titles published within the previous year. Since 2005, the Growing Good Kids Book Awards Winners have been selected and represent the best of children’s garden-related picture books.
“We are so proud of this year’s winners and honored to be able to bring a wider audience of young minds to these deserving titles,” said Randy Seagraves, AgriLife Extension program specialist and International Junior Master Gardener program curriculum director, College Station.
Publishers nominate titles published in the previous year. The Growing Good Kids Book Award committee, comprised of teachers, literature professors and leaders in youth gardening from across the country, evaluate the nominees, explained Seagraves.
“Our favorite award committee reviews come from our teachers who put these books to the real test of reading,” Seagraves said. “These committee members read them to their classroom of elementary students and ask them what they think!”
Because these are all picture books, winners were chosen based on the story and the illustration, as well as their engaging and inspiring works of plants, garden and ecology-themed children’s literature. Winners were announced at the Virtual National Children and Youth Garden Symposium held on July 9.
“Helping to tell the story of how our food is grown feels like the most important, profound and meaningful work that I could be doing,” said Lisl H. Detlefsen, author of “Right This Very Minute.” “To have the book recognized in this way is a tremendous honor. Thank you for this award, which will help this book continue to find its audience. It is such a joy to know that somewhere, right this very minute, more readers are learning where their food comes from.”
“We are the Gardeners” by Gaines, illustrated by Julianna Swaney and published by Tommy Nelson.
Description: Joanna Gaines and her children chronicle the adventures of starting their own family garden. From their failed endeavors, obstacles to overcome, such as bunnies eating everything they grow, and all of the knowledge they gain along the way, the Gaines family shares how they learned to grow a happy, successful garden.
“The Thing About Bees: A love Letter” written and illustrated by Shabazz Larkin and published by Readers and Eaters.
Description: In “The Thing About Bees: A Love Letter,” author/illustrator Shabazz Larkin spins a buoyant monologue to his young sons about why bees are so important and how they are analogous to rambunctious children. The narrative is threaded with unconditional love for both subjects. Hand lettering, bold coloring, and textural, mixed-media artwork add energy, while evocative language makes for a spirited and joy-filled read-aloud.
“Right This Very Minute” by Detlefsen and illustrated by Renee Kurilla and published by Feeding Minds Press.
Description: What’s that you say? You’re hungry? Right this very minute? Then you need a farmer. You have the stories of so many right here on your table! This delicious celebration of food and farming is sure to inspire readers of all ages to learn more about where their food comes from – right this very minute!
“Badger’s Perfect Garden” by Marcia Diane Arnold and illustrated by Ramona Kaulitzki and published by Sleeping Bear Press.
Description: It’s springtime and Badger is ready to plant the perfect garden. He has spent months gathering and sorting seeds. It’s been a lot of work but it’s worth it. His friends Red Squirrel, Dormouse and Weasel come to help. They weed. They rake. And finally, they plant. Afterward, everyone celebrates, and Badger can already imagine the perfect rows of flowers and vegetables. But then a rainstorm comes and washes away the beautiful seeds. Badger’s perfect garden is ruined. Or is it? This story will encourage young readers to think beyond plans and expectations and imagine the wonderful possibilities that may occur when life and nature have other ideas.
Providing her thanks and appreciate for choosing “Badger’s Perfect Garden,” Arnold said, “May your plants and gardens continue to nourish us all and to give us hope during these troubling times. May they be a reason for us to dance through jumbly, tumbly gardens with Badger and friends celebrating life. Thank you again, so much, for choosing ‘Badger’s Perfect Garden.’ Now let us go grow more gardens and more gardeners.”