Friday, April 03, 2009

Green Time! Mortimer's First Garden by Karma Wilson

Little Mortimer Mouse looked outside.

"Brown, brown, brown," he squeaked. "Nothing but brown. Too dull, too drab, to dreary."

Mortimer longed to see something green.

Visited by the end-of-winter blahs, Mortimer consoles himself with some mousely comfort food--his last three sunflower seed. As he munches away on the first seed, he hears the people who live in his house talking excitedly.

"Children," the big woman said, "it's SPRINGTIME. What time is that?"

"Garden time!" shouted the children.

"Everybody look at your seeds," their mother says. "They are small, but imagine! We can put them in the dirt and with a little sunshine and water they will grow, grow, grow! It's a springtime miracle!"

Mortimer looks at his last sunflower seed. Could he put it in the dirt and grow lots and lots of them? Not quite believing, he decides to give it a try, planting the little seed in the sun and giving it some water.

But at first nothing seems to be happening. Then it rains all the next day, and his little garden spot is a brown, soggy mess. Mortimer's doubts grow. Should he dig it up and eat his last delicious seed or hope for the spring miracle? Finally, a sense of peace comes upon him, and he decides to trust in the miracle.

And it happens. A small sprout finally appears and grows taller daily. At last a tall yellow sunflower turns its face toward the sun, and at the end of summer, Mortimer has a harvest of many, many seeds to fill his little larder.

"My garden, my miracle! Thank you, God. And please, God, I wouldn't mind a friend to help me eat these!" says Mortimer.

Best known for her best-selling Bear Snores On series, Karma Wilson, who introduced Mortimer Mouse in her recent Mortimer's Christmas Manger, has created another story with a gentle lesson which fits right into the spring season. Ably taking over the art chores from Wilson's usual illustrator, Jane Chapman, Dan Andreason adapts his style well to this tale with pleasing springtime settings for Mortimer's gardening venture; children will enjoy spotting Mortimer's potential friend, a watching spider, who finally turns up admiring Mortie's stockpile of sunflower seeds in the final illustration. Mortimer's First Garden (Margaret K. Elderry, 2009)is a fine addition to the many great springtime gardening stories as preschoolers begin their growing season units with those brave little seedlings pushing up in styrofoam cups along the classroom windowsill.

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