Phillis Gershator







About me



Who's in the garden?
in the

illustrated by Jill McDonald

Barefoot Books, 2010

* Booktrust Early Years Award 2010:
Shortlisted for Best Book for babies under one year old

*  Smithsonian's 2010 Notable Books for Children
*  Recommended for summer reading 2011:
Seattle's Mockingbird Books and Cafe

* The New York Times Spring Board Book Roundup, 2012
* Paperback edition
*   French board book edition

From the book jacket:

coming to see
my garden

Peek through the holes to see what creatures are busy in the garden.
There are moles dig-dig-digging, rabbits hop-hop-hopping and
frogs leap-leap-leaping in every corner.

A little about the book:

This is my first peek-a-boo book. I didn't plan it that way, but I do love peek-a-boo books! The surprise is always a thrill, and looking for the surprise is a great visual exercise.

Speaking of visual "literacy," one of the many wonderful things about a picture book is that you can return to an image at will. It won't vanish from view at the speed of film. How nice to take your time, explore, savor, repeat the experience over and over, AND discover more and more as you keep looking. The artist of Who's in the Garden, Jill McDonald, created a zillion fun things to stop and look at in her garden wonderland.

The idea for this book actually began with an activity song David and I wrote (I'll post the tune here once I figure out how!).
Meanwhile, the words:

Who’s coming to see how my garden grows
my garden grows, my garden grows?
Who’s coming to see how my garden grows?

Rabbits hop-hop-hopping between the rows!

Children could keep the song going, adding more garden animals "between the rows," the ones in the book--plus. Examples:

Inchworms inch-inch-inching between the rows.
Grasshoppers jump-jump-jumping between the rows.
Lizards dart-dart-darting between the rows.
Fireflies flit-flit-flitting between the rows.

Activities for getting up and moving around:
Children form two lines, facing each other. The child at the head of each line takes the part of the animal named, and hops, skips, jumps down the middle with his/her partner, then take his/her place at the end of each line.

OR sitting in one place for storytime: hand motions could describe the action: creeping, digging, flying.

In a choral performance, part of the group could sing the questions, and the rest of the group could sing the response.

As a possible playlet, there are plenty of parts for gardeners, hoppers, leapers, crawlers.... Creating the props would be fun too. Jill's use of patchwork and collage offer some good clues on how to make a memorable environment for the action.

From the reviews:

"With oversize die-cuts on every other page, this look at a young girl’s backyard garden allows children to play peekaboo and guess who as they encounter on the next spread, the bees, birds and frogs that live there. McDonald’s occasionally whimsical mixed-media collages are engaging, colorful and busy with detail, and Gershator’s simple rhyming question-and-answer text is appealing and age appropriate, making this a nice introduction to outdoor critters for young children." The New York Times online