Featured Friend: The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
Today was Western Day for my kindergartener at her school. (Remember, it’s Texas!) When I joined her for lunch on the playground, I noticed all the weeds that had sprung up with the coming of spring. Then, I noticed something wonderful: One child began pulling the weeds up by their roots. Before long, he had a host of kids following him doing the same thing. The kids hesitated in their activity when they saw a teacher approaching them. However, they continued their fun when Mrs. Wilson, a wise kindergarten teacher simply remarked, “I’m certainty not going to stop you. Keep going!”
Without even realizing it, one child’s fun endeavor inspired other children to do good, and at the close of Western Day, the playground looked better.
A very similar, but more elaborate scenario is featured in The Curious Garden. Come meet the boy that changed his town by seeing a small need and doing what he could do to help. Be inspired.
Introducing Liam and His Curious Garden:
Liam lived in a dreary town “without gardens or trees or greenery of any kind.” In spite of the dreariness, he loved being outdoors. One morning while wandering through his neighborhood, happily splashing in the rain puddles, he discovered a stairwell leading up to abandoned railway tracks. When he reached the top and stepped onto the broken down railway, he saw what he least expected: wildflowers and plants. Without being tended, the flowers were dying, and Liam saw that they needed a gardener. Although he didn’t fit that title, he was willing to try to help. This is the spot where it all began.
The more he worked on the garden, the more he learned; The more the garden grew, the more he felt like a gardener. Eventually the green garden covered the drab railway. When winter came, the snow prevented him from his usual work, but instead of worrying, he prepared for spring. After the snow melted away, Liam worked hard to restore the garden’s beauty and soon, the curious garden explored more places. He was surprised by where the plants, mosses, and flowers popped up throughout his town. “But the most surprising things that popped up were the new gardeners.” Without even realizing what he was doing, Liam inspired his neighbors to turn their town from dreary to delightful. What a curious way to Go Green.
“Many years later, the entire city had bloomed. But of all the new gardens, Liam’s favorite was where it all began.”
Interacting with the Story: Become FRIENDS with The Curious Garden
Feel, Relate, Imagine, Explore, Navigate, Develop, Share
Below is a FRIENDS list of questions and activities for you to use with your audience.
When asking the kids questions, share some of your answers first so that they can hear your examples and connect with you and the story in a meaningful way:
F- When have you worked hard at something to the point you felt like a real ________?
(writer, reader, dancer, singer, artist, musician, athlete, etc.)
R- Can you relate to Liam making mistakes when he first started gardening? What are
some mistakes you made when you first began your work/skill? What did you learn
from those mistakes? Did you feel like quitting? Are you glad that you are still working at your skill and learning more?
I- Imagine your favorite spot in your mind. Where is it? Why is it your favorite place? Has anything changed about that place over the years?
E- Explore the alliteration and personification Peter Brown so wonderfully embeds in his story. Read the book to your audience. Then show the Scholastic DVD of his book and have the kids find the places Brown uses these literary devices throughout his story. The words will appear on the bottom of the screen which really helps visual learners. Give the kids a treat, like gummy worms, for each example they find.
*Example of alliteration: “Rather than waste his winter worrying . . .”.
*Example of personification: “With miles of open railway ahead of it, the garden was growing restless. It wanted to explore.”
N- Navigate through your neighborhood and town to find ways that you can help make it better. For example, first start in your own yard by pulling weeds out of your garden. Then if your neighborhood has an entry way garden, go and pull those weeds. Organize a “trash and treat” time where you and the neighbors collect trash around the neighborhood and then meet at your place for a treat like a popsicle or cookie. Have fun and inspire others!
D- Develop a “Dreary Day Ideas List” by writing down simple, fun activities that you can enjoy doing outdoors, even when it’s dreary outside. Then, the next time that you are bored staying inside, you can be like Liam:“Even on drizzly days, while everyone else stayed inside, you could find Liam happily splashing through his neighborhood.”
S- Share your talent/skill with others in your town. For example, arrange to go to a local assisted living home and play an instrument for the residents. Be creative! Look at what YOU can start:
Inviting You To Become Better Acquainted with Peter Brown & His Work:
You Tube Video Interview: Uploaded on Feb 9, 2010
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