In her book, First Peas to the Table, Susan Grigsby uses the story
of a classroom gardening contest to teach children about gardens,
peas, and even Thomas Jefferson. The story follows two friends
and their classmates as they plant seeds, transplant them to a
garden, and care for their plants. They are in a race to see who
can get the first peas to the table, inspired by an annual competition
between Thomas Jefferson and his friends.
Children will be drawn into the story, rooting for Maya to win
the contest, and for her peas to flourish. The book itself is a
nice hardcover, and its 30 pages are the perfect weight for reading
aloud. The pages aren't thin or prone to ripping, they turn easily,
and they will resist being bent up as children turn the pages themselves.
Nicole Tadgell's colorful watercolor illustrations are beautiful,
and reminiscent of botanical prints. Facts about Thomas Jefferson
and his love of gardening are woven throughout the story, even
as the steps of growing a garden are easily introduced.
What with our family starting to think about planting our garden,
and with the memory of many failed attempts at planting peas, this
book arrived in our home at just the right time. It is helping
to re-instill some excitement about the gardening process (i.e.
hard work) in my younger children. The story held my children's
attention, and I was able to use it to point out the stages of
growth in the pea plant. It was educational, without being boring.
This book would be a wonderful addition to any home or classroom
that wants to learn about plants or gardening. I couldn't find
anything of concern in the story, and was especially pleased to
find that it dealt with the subject of competition so gracefully.
The friends in the story were encouraging, and handled winning
and losing very well. I think that all garden-loving families will
enjoy reading this book.