3 out of 4 stars
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Ms Abrams Everything Garden is a children's book written by Lisa and Samantha Colodny, with illustrations by Ashley Scott. This book is told from the perspective of a young girl who has just entered the first grade and doesn't know any of her new classmates. She misses her old teacher, friends, and even her old desk. She struggles with how to make friends in her new class.
Ms. Abrams is the girl's new teacher. Shortly into the school year, Ms. Abrams announces that the entire class will be participating in a class project for the next few months. They will be responsible for planting and maintaining a garden full of vegetables and flowers. The children must work together in different areas of the garden in small groups that are mixed up every week. The girl learns how to care for a garden with her classmates as they also learn more about each other every week. By the end of the project, the class has been transformed from mostly strangers into a tightly knit community.
It wasn't until I started writing this review that I realized the girl in this story is never named. The authors give details about every other kid in the class, names included, so I thought this was an odd choice. After some reflection, I think this was done purposefully with the intention of it being easier for young readers to put themselves in the shoes of the girl. Using the pronouns 'I' and 'we' instead of using a specific name just goes that much further to help children see things from the girl's point of view.
I appreciate how this book deals with the negative emotions of apprehension and fear and talks about how to cope with them. Learning to be in a new environment and making new friends is something everyone deals with. Teaching that these emotions can be overcome with patience and being open to new experiences is such an important lesson for kids just entering school to understand. This book gets that message across very nicely. The illustrations nicely reflect the action that is happening in the story without being distracting.
My only negative comments about this book are that it seemed a little longer than necessary and there were a couple of grammatical issues. The biggest problem with this book is the inconsistency in punctuation of the title. The cover of this book has the title written as Ms. Abrams' Everything Garden, while the title page says Ms Abrams' Everything Garden, and the title on Online Book Club and Amazon is listed as Ms Abrams Everything Garden. Needless to say, it's a bit confusing why there are three variations for the title.
I tested the age range for this book by reading it to my rising kindergartener. I thought the book may be a bit out of her range, but because it deals with a topic that she will be experiencing in a few months, I gave it a try anyway. She absolutely loved it and asked me to read it again the next night. I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars and think this is a great book to read to children going into kindergarten through second grade.
Ms Abrams Everything Garden
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