cover image In the Children's Garden

In the Children's Garden

Carole Lexa Schaefer, Carole Lexa Scharfer. Henry Holt & Company, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-1958-2

In what is the picture-book debut for both author and artist, ripe, robust prose describes the work of young gardeners in a community plot that blooms in Seattle. Beginning with the soil (``deep, dark dirt, rich with rotted grass, apple peels and onionskins'') and seeds (``covered with dirt by hands that pat, pat, pat''), children tend the progress of their own kinder-garden. Soon, the empty brown lot erupts in a profusion of ``strawberry clumps,'' ``pumpkin tangles,'' ``zucchini tumbles'' and ``green bean tents.'' The dynamic, sometimes unruly compositions and strong lighting in Pauley's sun-splashed illustrations evoke the untidy abundance and fertile abandon of nature; some, however, may find the palette garish. No romantic, thoughtful tendencies here--only exuberant, neighborly fun. Ages 5-8. (June)