The Children’s Book Review | September 11, 2019
The Upside-Down Gardener
Written by Chrysa Smith
Illustrated by Pat Achilles
Age Range: 4+
Paperback: 40 pages
Publisher: Independently published (November 2, 2018)
What to Expect: Gardening, Imagination, and Resourcefulness
In The Upside-Down Gardener, spunky Dory Oslo discovers the benefits and virtues that come from growing a garden.
Dory is ready for the weather to warm up, especially since springtime means baseball season. Dory’s mom reminds her that they still need to raise money for her team’s baseball uniforms, and she also suggests that growing a garden in their backyard might be a great way to add some brightness to their days. Excitedly, Dory plants some flower seeds with her mom, but then discovers that she will need to be patient—patience is not her strong suit. She tries waking up the seeds with an alarm clock, pouring coffee over the seeds, blowing a whistle just like her baseball coach does, but the seeds just sit there. Feeling a tad disappointed—all Dory wants is some cheery spring weather and the opportunity to raise money for her uniform—she surrenders one evening to a vivid dream of an upside-down garden that blooms below into the subway. It turns out that these dreamy blooms may just blossom into an excellent waking idea that spreads cheer and helps raise money for baseball uniforms.
Along with some fundamental gardening skills, author Chrysa Smith has created a lively short story that nicely highlights qualities such as patience, resourcefulness, creativity, and kindness. Pat Achilles’ illustrations are the perfect accompaniment, bringing life to the gloomy New York City brownstone scenes bit by bit with Dory’s enigmatic personality and the finale of spring flowers.
All in all, this imaginative, illustrated easy reader lends itself well to newly independent readers or kids ready to sit for a tale presented in a slightly different format to a picture book. The Upside-Down Gardener would also make a great addition to a classroom collection for group reading time. This is a lovely springtime or baseball season read.
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About the Author
A double-decade freelance writer, Smith has turned a love of writing into writing about what she loves—namely zany poodles and an unlikely gardener. The Upside-Down Gardener easy reader was published in 2018. The book has received accolades from The Children’s Book Review, Midwest Book Review, Mom’s Choice Awards and a variety of public gardens and arboretums. Prior works include The Adventures of the Poodle Posse easy reader (five book) series and picture book, Once upon a Poodle. Smith’s adult work can be found in a variety of lifestyle magazines, She lives in Bucks County, PA with her family, including a rotating assortment of motley poodles.
For more information, visit: www.wellbredbook.net
About the Illustrator
As an illustrator, art director and designer Pat has created illustrations for children’s books, magazines, greeting cards and arts organizations for over 25 years. She has won awards in the Philadelphia Sketch Club’s Phillustration exhibits and has recently has several cartoons published in The New Yorker. The Upside-Down Gardener is the 7th book on which she and Chrysa Smith have collaborated.
For more information, visit: www.achillesportfolio.com
Dedicated Reviews allow authors and illustrators to gain prompt visibility for their work. This non-biased review of “The Upside-Down Gardener” was sponsored* by Chrysa Smith. Learn more about getting a book review …