cover image Mortimer's First Garden

Mortimer's First Garden

Karma Wilson, , illus. by Dan Andreasen. . S&S/McElderry, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-4169-4203-0

The mouse introduced in Mortimer's Christmas Manger continues on his journey of faith and enlightenment. Mortimer can't imagine that seeds have any use beyond the immediate gratification of being eaten, but when he sees the human family in his house plant a garden, he decides to use his last sunflower seed to give it a whirl himself. As in many of Wilson's books, the religious message is explicit. Convinced that “the miracle” won't happen, tempted to dig up the seed and eat it, Mortimer hears the voice of God: “Wait .” “Suddenly, even though he was drenched with rain,” writes Wilson, “Mortimer felt warm and protected.” With hard work and prayer, Mortimer produces a “miracle” sunflower and a bumper crop of seeds, which in turn prompts the book's final teachable moment: “And please, God,” says a fat and contented Mortimer, “I wouldn't mind a friend to help me eat these.” Andreasen channels the style of Jane Chapman, who illustrated the previous title; the transition will go unremarked. Ages 4–8. (Feb.)