“Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table” by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Eric-Shabazz Larkin

ImageThe Plot In Five Sentences Or Less:  While playing basketball in Belgium as a young man, Will Allen discovers the joys of digging in the dirt.  When he moves to Milwaukee, he pursues this passion by buying some vacant greenhouses in the city and converting them to farms.  The process is slow because the soil is filled with pollution, but over the years Will’s urban farm revolution spreads around the world.

My Take:  I found this to be an inspiring read.  Jacqueline Briggs Martin does an excellent job of conveying plenty of information about Will and his farming movement without slowing down the story.  Eric-Shabazz Larkin’s bright illustrations conveys the excitement and enthusiasm of Will Allen’s urban farming.  Notes in the back point to other sources of information about Will.  Many readers will no doubt want to start planting seeds on their windowsills after reading this wonderful book.

One Interesting Thing About the Author Or Illustrator: Jacqueline Briggs Martin is also the author of the book Snowflake Bentley, which won the Caldecott award in 1999.

Small Steps: the Year I Got Polio by Peg Kehret

This is an incredible book.  Kehret has the reader hooked within the first few pages.  I actually got queasy reading about how polio took over her 12 year old body.  Little Peg is moved from hospital to hospital as the symptoms from polio overtake her.  The reader watches as her fever eventually subsides, she is taken out of an iron lung, and she is subjected to therapy treatments that seem nothing short of torture.  The most touching part of the book are the friendships that she makes in the hospital.  Recommend for grades 4+