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First PEAS to the Table Review by April ElstromSusan Grigsby
Albert Whitman & Company
250 South Northwest Highway, Suite 320
Park Ridge, Illinois 60068
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.