About the Holiday
In 1987 National Garden Week sprouted on the calendar to celebrate the beginning of spring and the growing season. But a week just isn’t enough to enjoy all the fun and excitement (and delicious food and glorious flowers) of gardening. In 2002, the National Gardening Association extended the holiday to encompass the full month of April. A perfect activity for the whole family gardening is a wonderful way to teach kids about the growth cycle, pollinators, nutrition, and more! If young plants or seeds are available in you area, creating a garden in your yard or even indoors makes a fun and educational addition to homeschool lessons with delicious rewards to come. Today’s book takes a look at an age-old question to whet your appetite for summer’s bounty.
By Jakki Licare
By Mark Hoffmann
A mother and her child are back from the grocery store. Mom asks her child to put away all of the fruit and veggies. The child greets the fruit and asks how they are doing. “Peachy keen,” Peach replies. “Full of zest,” says Lemon. But Strawberry complains, “I was jammed in that bag.” The fruit all get into the bowl. Apple, peach, banana, lemon, orange, pear, strawberry, grapes, lime, blueberry, and…tomato. The child stops and tells the tomato he doesn’t belong in the fruit bowl. He is a vegetable and should be in the fridge. Tomato tells them he is fruit, but they all tell him he has to leave. “You’ll have to split,” Banana says.
The child directs Tomato to the fridge, telling him he’ll go bad if he doesn’t cool it. Sitting on the edge of the crisper drawer, Tomato tells everyone he doesn’t belong in the fridge and he can prove it. He pulls out a book and begins to explain that all fruit start out as flowers. Banana remembers, “My flower was the best of the bunch.” The child asks if all vegetables are fruit since they come from flowering plants too. Tomato explains that vegetables come from different parts of the plant: leaves, stems, petals, and roots. Tomato then shows an x-ray of himself. The x-ray clearly shows his seeds on the inside. Potato exclaims, “I can’t believe my eyes!”
The child agrees that maybe he is a fruit, but tomatoes aren’t sweet like other fruit. Tomato is indignant and points out that cranberries and grapefruit aren’t sweet. The child wonders if anyone can settle this debate for them. Blueberry mentions that there is an old legend about Old Man Produce who is “hidden in this very kitchen.” The fruits all climb out of the bowl to seek out this sage.
In the corner of the counter, the fruits and vegetables find a very wrinkled raisin. Old Man Produce welcomes them with mystical knowledge about what they seek. The child asks him if a tomato is really a fruit. “Well that is the question of all questions. If the tomato is not a fruit. Is he not delicious?” Old Man Produce talks on for a long time until Tomato interrupts him with a curt “Yes or No?”
Finally, Old Man Produce confirms that tomato is a fruit. The child agrees that tomato should go in the bowl then. Lemon and Blueberry welcome him warmly. The child asks, “Are there any other vegetables that are fruits in disguise?” Tomato says, “Funny you should ask.” Suddenly, Pepper, Snap Pea, Eggplant, Pickle, Avocado, String Bean, and Yellow Squash all climb into the bowl too. The child agrees they all can stay, and the fruits all snuggle in happily. The vegetables in the fridge wish they had a bowl instead of a drawer. Tomato replies, “Those veggies are just greens with envy.”
In this playful tale told entirely through dialogue balloons, Mark Hoffmann explains to young readers what makes a fruit a fruit. He introduces facts like: all fruits start off as flowers and carry seeds as well. Hoffmann also explains that vegetables come from other parts of the plants such as roots, petals, stems, and leaves. His wonderful and silly vegetable and fruit puns keep young children interested and laughing. Hoffmann also shows a huge array of fruits and vegetables which hopefully will make our more tentative eaters curious.
Hoffmann’s bold illustrations fill each page with a colorful variety of fruit and vegetables that are a treat for the eyes. The vivid personalities of the fruit are easily conveyed through the artful and simplistic faces. Children will sympathize with Tomato when he sadly walks away from the fruit bowl in the beginning and then cheer along with the other fruit when, with a big smile, he climbs into the fruit bowl at the end. Fun characters, such as Old Man Produce – a wrinkly raisin with a cane that’s a take off on wise wizards in books and movies – are sure to make children giggle throughout the story.
Flower Bowl is an educational and entertaining read for story times about nutrition, gardening, or plants and a wonderful addition to any classroom or home, or public library.
Ages 3 – 7
Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2018 | ISBN 9781524719937
Discover more about Mark Hoffmann, his books, and his art on his website.
National Garden Month Activity
Make your Own Fruit Bowl
Do your fruit need a home? Try this craft and make a place for all your fruit to hang out together (even tomato!)
- Modge Podge
- Plastic cup
- 2 sheets of 12×12 cardstock
- Foam brush
- Scrap Paper
- Cut sheets of card stock into 1-inch strips
- Blow up balloon to the size of the bowl you wish
- Before gluing be sure to lay down scrap paper on your work surface. This is a messy project!
- Rest balloon on plastic cup
- Cover the top and sides of balloon in Modge Podge
- Take a strip of paper and coat the bottom side of the paper with Modge Podge. This is a great activity for younger children to help with.
- Lay strip along the balloon. Coat the top of the strip until it can lay smoothly along the balloon. The ends of the strips will stick up a bit and that is okay. Laying down the strips can be tricky and should probably be done by older children or adults.
- Repeat steps 6 & 7 until half of the balloon is covered. You can make your bowl shallow or deep depending on how much of the balloon you cover.
- Go over all the strips with another layer of Modge Podge
- Let balloon and strips rest in a safe place over night
- Next pop or cut balloon
- Cut edges off to even out bowl
You can find Fruit Bowl at these booksellers
Picture Book Review