About the Holiday
Sing with Your Child Month was established 15 years ago by Music Together LLC and its founder Kenneth K. Guilmartin. The organization chose March and its ushering in of Spring and rebirth as a reminder of our most precious resource: our children. When parents, grandparents, teachers, and other caregivers sing and make music together with children, they form everlasting bonds, helping children to feel secure and putting them on the road to success. Research shows that early music education and participation has a large impact not only on musical growth but also on academic skill development and achievement. Singing with children boosts their language development and their reading and math learning.
But engaging in singing together isn’t all about education. It provides for times of fun and much-needed relaxation too! You don’t have to be a great vocalist to sing with kids, either! Just share favorite songs, silly songs, those old campfire songs, and songs kids learn in school and discover a whole new way to enjoy time together. Today’s book with its story and singalong audio and video included is a terrific place to start! To learn more about the benefits of singing with children, visit the National Association for the Education of Young Children website.
Thanks to Barefoot Books and Danna Smith for sharing a digital copy of Rooftop Garden with me for review consideration. All opinions on the book are my own.
Written by Danna Smith | Illustrated by Pati Aguilera | Sung by Holly Turton
On a spacious apartment building rooftop, tenants, adults and kids alike, are busy building raised planting beds, bringing up pots and tools and watering cans, opening bags of dirt, and installing a sturdy work bench. A group of kids is even hanging a banner to celebrate their new community garden. One bed is all ready for planting, and a cadre of neighbors have gathered around, knowing just what to do: “Dig a hole and in they go. / Sow the seeds with a shovel and hoe. / Plant them, pat them, row by row. / Dig a hole and in they go.” And when all the rows are full, everyone joins in with a chant of encouragement: “Grow, garden! Grow, garden! Grow, garden! Grow, grow, grow!”
Signs go in to mark where the lettuce, carrots, mint, and sage are planted, and then the waiting begins. Regular watering, sun, and shade spur those seeds to sprout and send tiny shoots reaching for the sun. But that’s not all these tender plants need because in among them hide “pesky weeds” that keep the neighbors working to pick them and pull them before they grow back. The plants are thriving, climbing trestles, crowding pots and garden beds all due to the diligence of the birds, butterflies, and bees who “…fly to and fro, / Spreading pollen as they go— / Dust that helps the veggies grow.” At last it’s time to harvest the “rooftop crop. / Pick and pull and twist—don’t stop! / Fill the baskets to the top.”
And what is the reward for the spring and summer’s attentive work? “A garden feast,” of course! Now, on that same rooftop where the food was grown, all the neighbors sit around a long table and while talking, laughing and, congratulating each other, enjoy a delicious homegrown meal. “A garden feast! Oh, what a treat. Yum, garden! Yum, garden! Yum, garden! Yum, yum, yum!”
Back matter includes a graphic depicting Eight Steps for Growing a Garden, an illustrated guide to Six Stages of Plant Growth, and the musical score to the Rooftop Garden song. The book also includes a QR code that lets readers access a toe-tapping singalong audio with Holly Turton and vibrant video animation of the story.
Danna Smith plants bountiful seeds of joy for gardening, friends, neighbors, and community in her jaunty story. Through her lively and rhythmically vivacious quatrains, in which the first line repeats as the last line, Smith takes kids through a complete growing season, highlighting the preparatory stage, planting, watering, weeding, encouraging pollinators and discouraging pests, harvesting, and finally enjoying a garden feast. The refrain cheering the garden on to grow, grow, grow will be a favorite for kids to chime in on, and the final celebration after a successful season of farming is sure to spur kids to try some gardening of their own. Yum! Yum! Yum!
Kids will love the vivid colors, easy smiles, and action-packed details in Pati Aguilera’s fresh and fabulous illustrations of this singular apartment building. Along with following the progress of the rooftop garden, children will enjoy lingering over the pages to find kids having fun spritzing each other with misting bottles, see bees and butterflies visiting blossoms, watch little ones getting wheelbarrow rides, and name the fruit and vegetables that have grown in the planting beds and pots. Camaraderie, crops, and caring for the earth all on a rooftop—what could be better?!
The rollicking, “follow-the-ball” singalong with Holly Turton, who lends country charm to her enthusiastic rendition, and delightful animation of the story will entertain kids and adults alike, and both will eagerly put this enchanting song on repeat.
Rooftop Garden is a wonderfully conceived book, singalong, and video collaboration that will entertain all ages and is a top pick for home, classroom, school, and public library collections. The book would also make a favorite choice for extracurricular club and group meetings or outings.
Ages 3 – 7
Barefoot Books, 2022 | ISBN 978-1646864966
Raise your voice and tap your toes with this irresistibly catchy singalong version of Rooftop Garden!
About the Author
Danna Smith is a poet and an award-winning author of numerous books for children. Her nonfiction picture book, The Hawk of the Castle: A Story of Medieval Falconry, received two starred reviews, is a Junior Library Guild Selection, and the recipient of Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books of the year. Danna is currently living and writing in northern California. For more information about her books, upcoming releases, and teaching activities, visit her website at dannasmithbooks.com.
About the Illustrator
When Pati Aguilera was a child, she liked to do all kinds of crafts, draw, and spend a lot of time sorting and looking at her pencils. She is Chilean, and has lived a large part of her life in the city of Santiago, where she studied design and became a book illustrator. Today she lives in the countryside with her partner and two daughters, and is building her biggest craft project of her life: her own house! Pati creates her artwork digitally so she can change the composition and palette until she achieves the desired balance and harmony. To view a portfolio of her work, visit her website at patiaguilera.com.
About Holly Turton
Holly Turton is a British vocalist with roots in blues, funk and soul music. When she’s not recording, teaching, singing in schools, or performing live, you can find Holly in her garden potting plants and vegetables for the upcoming season. She currently lives on the beautiful Cornish coast of England. You can visit her at hollyturton.co.uk.
Sing with Your Child Month Activities
Rooftop Garden Seed Spheres Activity
Kids can get ready to grow their own fabulous garden with this fun activity that makes it easy to plant seeds just where you want them. These Seed Spheres make gifts for garden-loving friends and family members, too!
Rooftop Garden Mini Folding Booklet Activity
Here’s a little book of fun activities kids can fold and tuck away in a purse, bag, or pocket to take all the fun of gardening along to the park, the farmers market, or anywhere they’ll have waiting time or down time.
Mini Folding Booklet Activity
You can find Rooftop Garden at these booksellers
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million
To support your local independent bookstore, order from Bookshop.
Picture Book Review