cover image LILY'S GARDEN


Deborah Kogan Ray, Deborah Kogan-Ray, . . Millbrook/Roaring Brook, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7613-1593-3

The opening spread of Ray's (Hokusai) well-conceived picture book shows a winter scene and an empty house up the street from narrator Lily's, where her grandparents lived before they moved from Maine to California. Even though they will not be reunited until Christmas, the bond between Lily and her grandparents remains strong, thanks to their shared love of gardening. Ray traces their communications from January to December (one month per spread). As Lily describes the progress of her outdoor efforts, Grandma responds with tips and encouragement. In June, for instance, " 'I always loved bunnies. Now, I know why Grandpa sometimes calls them pesky critters,' I told Grandma." The accompanying scene depicts Lily at the moment she discovers the remains of her lettuce, as the cotton-tailed thieves make their escape. Grandma advises, "Ask Mom to put camphor balls around your garden. The smell makes the bunnies stay away." Related sidebars on the left of each spread offer additional information about gardening and related topics: a recipe for blueberry pancakes for August and, for November, a brief history of harvest celebrations. Ray's realistic artwork portrays the way light changes from the fluorescence of winter to the orange glow that blankets the world in autumn. An accessible guide to gardening and a constructive way to cope with an absent loved one. Ages 4-8. (Aug.)