Two Gardening Books to Read Now | Reviews
Winter is descending on much of the Northern Hemisphere right now, and Serious Gardeners have already cleared out their garden beds and put away their tools until spring. But you can still dream! Here’s a look at two graphic novels that can get readers thinking about starting a garden of their own once the snows recede (or sooner in warmer areas).
Maker Comics: Grow a Garden!
By Alexis Frederick-Frost
First Second, 2020
Although this is book is aimed at a middle-grade audience, it’s pretty complex and inclues a lot of details about the whys as well as the hows. A quartet of garden gnomes head off to gardening school and learn about compost, seeds, and other gardening topics as they grow a few simple plants. Discussions of the science of gardening alternate with fanciful adventure sequences, as the gnomes are magically transported to different areas of their school and dodge a few mildly dangerous circumstances. Some of the projects, such as making a hotbed with hay bales, seem a bit above the level of the intended audience, cautions about adult supervision notwithstanding. Nonetheless, the information is solid, well presented, and strongly slanted toward reuse, recycling and renewable resources, and the adventure story and cute, round characters make for a fun read.
The Comic Book Guide to Growing Food
Written by Joseph Tychonievich
Art by Liz Anna Kozik
Ten Speed Press, 2021
A young woman helps her next-door neighbor, an older man, with a computer problem, and in return, he shows her how to garden. That’s the framing tale for this step-by-step guide to planting a vegetable and herb garden. The creators use clever analogies and well-thought-out visuals to convey the material, and the two characters’ banter keeps it light. The older neighbor’s technophobia is a bit overplayed, but it does give him the opportunity to describe alternatives to smartphone apps. This book is very clearly geared toward the practical side of gardening, and there’s plenty of good advice for the beginner: Keep the garden small at first, plant things you like to eat, get your soil tested. And for those who don’t have much time or a big yard, there’s a short list of easy-to-grow plants that can be grown almost anywhere, as well as suggestions for would-be gardeners who don’t have their own green space. The art is simple, with clear panel arrangements, simple characters, and easy-to-follow diagrams. While this book is not pitched as a young-readers title, it is a good read for teens and even younger readers who are interested in the topic.
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About Brigid Alverson
Brigid Alverson, the editor of the Good Comics for Kids blog, has been reading comics since she was 4. She has an MFA in printmaking and has worked as a book editor and a newspaper reporter; now she is assistant to the mayor of Melrose, Massachusetts. In addition to editing GC4K, she writes about comics and graphic novels at MangaBlog, SLJTeen, Publishers Weekly Comics World, Comic Book Resources, MTV Geek, and Good E-Reader.com. Brigid is married to a physicist and has two daughters in college, which is why she writes so much. She was a judge for the 2012 Eisner Awards.
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