cover image How to Say Hello to a Worm: A First Guide to Outside

How to Say Hello to a Worm: A First Guide to Outside

Kari Percival. Rise x Penguin Workshop, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-593-22679-7

In this deceptively simple, sparkling debut, a group of young children plant a garden in raised beds and watch it grow. Percival shows rather than tells, deploying a q&a format that involves the children’s exclamations as well as conversational instructions based in noticing. (“Look! Pea plants! See how they curl around your finger?” leads to a simple tutorial on building a support structure.) Digitally manipulated silkscreen images retain their handmade feel, showing successive views of children with varying abilities and skin tones, whose expressions reveal their absorption from the first spread: “How do you plant lettuce seeds?” Responding to the question via action, one child is shown sowing the seeds (“Sprinkle, sprinkle, sprinkle”), another covers them with soil (“Pat, pat, pat”), and a third waters (“Now make some rain!”). Through action, the children learn to touch the insects they encounter (“gently, very gently”) and to judge a strawberry’s ripeness (“This one? Not yet. Too green”). Without picturing a single adult, Percival conveys the joy children can feel in working together, being outdoors, and eating food they’ve grown themselves—all with a fizzy immediacy. Back matter offers gardening tips and notes for adults on gardening with toddlers. Ages 2–4. (Feb.)