Monday, May 5, 2014

Mortimer's First Garden

I've written before about our love for growing things.  And I've written before about our love for my friend Karma Wilson's books.  So it's possible that nothing in this post will seem especially new, but I'd love to highlight how my kids transfer things they learn in books (picture books, even!  Picture books especially!) into their real lives.

Mortimer's First Garden was written by Karma Wilson and published in 2009.  It's the companion book to her Christmas story Mortimer's Christmas Manger.

Mortimer is a lovable and adaptive little mouse.  It's worth your time to "meet" him properly in his Christmas book, but the two stories can stand alone.  Mortimer's First Garden is our very favorite springtime story.  We have read and enjoyed it for years, but DD has taken recent interest in gardening and especially sunflowers.  We have Mortimer to thank for that.  As my husband and I talked about our vegetable garden this year, DD asked if we could get some flower seeds.  We got him the sunflower seeds, and he and his dad planted them.  (Then we had a deluge and some of them got washed out.  But some of them didn't!)  DD has been watching his sunflowers grow and has loved how similar his real plants look to the pictures in the book.  

In the story, little Mortimer is looking forward to his meal of three sunflower seeds when he hears the humans in his house talking about springtime and planting a garden.  As the humans discuss the miracle of planting seeds and anticipating a harvest of vegetables, Mortimer takes note.  He decides to take a chance with one of his sunflower seeds.  

He is dubious, but he carefully finds a spot for his seed, buries it, and waters it.  He remains patient through days of rain and no apparent return on his investment.  One beautiful sunny day, green appears from the ground!  Mortimer continues to tend his plant.

And in the summer warmth
the tiny seed continued to grow...
and grow...
and grow...
Until one day in his garden Mortimer found...

By the end of the story, Mortimer's sunflower has produced more seeds than he can eat and plant next year, so he asks God for a friend to share with!  

At this point, reading with my children is about reading with my children.  It's about the time together, the appreciation for the written word, the learning to sit quietly.  I don't really need picture books to teach something.  But I really love it when they do.  DD doesn't know how to read, but I bet he could have found sunflowers on the shelf at the store.  He knew how to plant them.  He knew that they needed water and sun, and to be tended.  He knew that he would need to be patient as he waited for green to appear, and that he needs to continue in patience as we wait for yellow.  He knows that God is the creator of all life.  He picked up on all of these things from Mortimer's First Garden.

He also loves that the book is inscribed to him: " the sky!" 

I think they all are doing just that.   

DD's favorite:  "When the rain falls.  Sunflowers need rain, and sun, and also someone to get rid of pesky weeds!" 

Parents and teachers, this is a great one for the spring!  

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