Monday, 19 March 2018

Picture Books to Share on an Allotment by Cath Jones

Anyone who knows me will agree that I’m BONKERS about growing vegetables and BONKERS about picture books. It’s not a huge surprise then that my debut picture book, 
Bonkers About Beetroot, is about a group of animals who decide to grow a giant beetroot.


Spring is my favourite time of year in the garden. The growing season is just beginning; the greenhouse is filling up with seed trays and seeds are bursting into life. Right now, thousands of people are heading for their allotments! But if you’ve got children along to help, sometimes it can be tricky to engage them in gardening activities, particularly for extended periods. 
My top tip for keeping kids happy on an allotment is to take the right picture books with you. So when they have had enough of digging holes and they don’t really want to help tidy up they won’t be bored!


I used to manage a community allotment and naturally the project’s focus was on children. At the end of every gardening session I shared picture book stories with the young gardeners. I tracked down lots of books that featured vegetables or gardening as their main theme. My picture book collection grew and grew, much like our vegetables. And of course it was growing beetroot with the children that inspired my story about a BONKERS beetroot eating zebra! I now volunteer on a local community allotment with a family group and get to share my own picture book with them.



I’m sure there are many vegetable themed and gardening related picture books that I have not discovered yet. But I do have a few firm favourites which I hope you will enjoy while doing a bit of gardening with the kids. For some reason the ones I like the most all feature carrots. And yes, I do have an idea for my own carrot related story...

In no particular order, picture books that I think work really well on allotments are: 



The Giant Carrot by Allan Manham and Penny Dann. I love sharing this one down on the plot. It’s a great one for getting the kids to join in with.
Too Many Carrots by Katy Hudson. This has always been hugely popular. The text is perfect and it’s beautifully illustrated too. 

Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds and Peter Brown. This one is great for sharing one to one. It’s a bit scary! It has really fabulous illustration inspired by Hitchcock films.



Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! By Candace Fleming and G. Brian Karas. This a delightful story that shows the central character growing carrots and harvesting them as well as defending them! It’s great for joining in with and very funny.


Pattan’s Pumpkin by Chitra Soundar and Frane Lessac. This is a great choice if you are having a competition to see who can grow the biggest pumpkin. The text is so lovely; it’s a joy to read aloud.

If you are looking for stories that deal in particular with growing food then the following are ideal: Grow Your Own by Esther Hall.


Growing Good by Bernard Ashley and Anne Wilson 

and Dominic Grows Sweetcorn by Mandy Ross and Alison Bartlett. 


My own Bonkers About Beetroot is also good for showing how to grow seeds. 



There are many more titles I could suggest but right now I’m heading off to my greenhouse. I’ve got some beetroot seeds to deal with!

Wishing you a great growing season and I hope the kids in your life will feel inspired by all these wonderful picture books. If I have missed out a book you particularly love to read down on the plot, please do share in the comments section.


Cath Jones is the author of quirky picture book Bonkers About Beetroot and lots of early and reluctant readers. She also writes junior and middle grade fiction. Her whole life has been about books: as a librarian, teacher, editor, community gardener (vegetable story-time anyone?), and now an author she has always aimed to inspire a love of stories. She loves sharing her stories with children of all ages in libraries, bookshops, schools and especially on allotments. 

13 comments:

  1. What a lovely blog Cath Jones! Great ideas for veg and gardening related picture books. Some brilliant books to share.

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    1. Thanks Louisa. Think the kids in your life might be a bit old for these, but you never know!

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  2. Aw! Thank you for choosing Pattan's Pumpkin as one of them too.

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    1. It's such a lovely book. I'm looking forward to sharing it with the kids on my local community allotment. It will be a joy to share!

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  3. Great post Cath.

    We love Bear and Bunny Grow Tomatoes by Bruce Koscielniak but I'm not sure if it is still in print.

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    1. Gosh that's not one I have come across. I will see if I can track it down. Thanks for the tip off!

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  4. Sharon Tuckwood19 March 2018 at 13:05

    Great blog. I'm inspired. I have the garden, I have the seeds. All I need to do now is buy the books and borrow the children. It could add a whole new dimension to my gardening!

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    1. Sharon you really are the most BONKERS veg. grower in the most wonderful way!

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  5. Rachel Tilda Wolf19 March 2018 at 13:08

    Great blog Cath, thanks for all the wonderful recommendations! I'm inspired to start growing with my daughter!

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    1. Hooray! Get out the gardening tools. I have beetroot seeds you can have though I can't promise they will turn out to be giant!

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  6. Fantastic blog, Cath. Books + allotments + a little tender loving care should get plenty of story seeds sprouting in young minds ...

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  7. Great book recommendations for the theme of growing. And lot of books I’ve yet to discover!

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  8. Thank you, Cath. Some fun recommendations, there, too. Do you know Scarlette Beane by Karen Wallace and Jon Berkeley? It's is a wonderful wonderful book about a little girl whose fingers glow green and she makes amazing things happen with the vegetables she grows. One of my favourite picture books.

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