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Review: My Garden by Kevin Henkes

My Garden
By Kevin Henkes
Greenwillow (HarperCollins)
ISBN: 9780061715181
Grades PreK-2
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Tone. It’s a tricky thing. If an author slips up in this area, a book can come across as confusing, or worse, condescending. Kevin Henkes knows tone well, and My Garden is the proof. It doesn’t scream. It doesn’t beg. It subtly pulls young readers in, and keeps them there. A simple story set to imagination-triggering imagery.

A straw hat-wearing girl loves to help her mother in the garden, watering plants and chasing away rabbits. But, given the chance, she would grow a garden that is truly unique. A garden where sunflowers come in patterns, seashells grow, and carrots are invisible (our heroine doesn’t like carrots, you see). But that’s all a fantasy, right? The little girl decides to plant a seashell anyway, just to see what happens

You know how musicians have phases? They dabble in a certain sound or style for a while, then later an album comes out titled “The (Insert Title Here) Sessions”? My Garden is out of the Old Bear Sessions. The soft pastels of the watercolor and ink illustrations will remind many of Henkes 2008 stunner. This is not a bad thing.

Quietly successful on all fronts, My Garden is likely to end up on best-of lists in 2010, and win over young readers for some time to come.

Browse inside My Garden:

Review copy from library

Also reviewed by Kids Lit, Brimful Curiosities, Hooray for Books!.

Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. Yeah, something tells me that sunflower on the cover is going to have a shiny round sticker on top of it come this time next year.

  2. Thanks for highlighting this book! Now I just need to decide whether to include it in my Spring or Kevin Henkes units…

  3. My Garden was perfect for storytime with kindergarten this spring. Each child wanted to tell what they would grow in their garden and they included everything from shoes to pets. This book naturally lends itself to the reader wanting to illustrate their own imagined garden.


  1. […] on the street, and pair it with Valorie Fisher’s When Ruby Tried to Grow Candy. Check out Travis’ review for more info on My […]

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