Sweet Pea Summer is the perfect book to enjoy reading aloud during the summer. A young English girl tells the story of a summer when her Mom had to go to the hospital, and her Dad takes her to be with her grandparents in a country village. Of course, the girl misses her parents and has trouble concentrating on her reading, or her art because she is worried about her mother. Then Grandpa suggests that she help him in his large garden full of flowers and vegetables. Grandpa gives her the job of taking care of his prized sweet peas. She also has the opportunity to enter the sweet peas in the village flower show at the end of the summer.
She works hard to care for the flowers and then “something terrible happened. All the flower buds had fallen off the sweet peas”. But she doesn’t give up. She reads Grandpa’s gardening books to find out how to remedy the disaster. She tries several recommendations from her reading, but still the buds fall off. Finally, she discovers how to solve the problem. Her perseverance, research and labor pays off when she wins a prize for her blue sweet peas at the flower show. There is a happy ending for all when she is reunited with her parents, with her mother fully recovered.
The children I read this to asked for it to be read again. They were especially interested in how the girl researched and tried different solutions to the problem of the flower buds falling off. They returned to the illustration that show how the girl went out at night to wrap the plants snugly in blankets, thinking the problem was that it was too cold at night for the buds. She is pictured by herself, tools in her pocket, tying string around the blankets to keep the plants warm. The children discussed how she was trying to solve the problem with no adult help.
The brightly colored watercolor illustrations fill the pages with small details for the viewer to discover. For example, the grandparents have a cat and several kittens. My young listeners delighted in finding the kittens on many of the pages. The double page spread of the Village Hall filled with displays of flowers, produce and baked goods lends itself to careful perusal, as the young viewer discovers the many different items that are displayed. In that scene, the diversity in the village is evidenced with people of difference races and religions represented. The large size of the book, 10′ x ll’, makes it possible for a class to view the detailed illustrations from a distance.
My young listeners found many aspects of the story to discuss. When you read the book to a large group, give the children time to carefully examine the illustrations. The author finishes the book with information about sweet peas and their history. -Recommended by: Marilyn Carpenter, Professor Emeritus Eastern Washington University.
Title Sweet Pea Summer
Author: Hazel Mitchell
Publisher: Candlewick Press
PubDate: April 13, 2021
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