Gardening is once again becoming a popular pastime. The focus on earth friendly living has sparked an increased interest in home gardening as many try to reduce their carbon footprint and eat organically. Also, several community garden projects have taken off. The community gardens bring people together, help families save money and teach individuals how to become more self-sufficient. During WWII, the U.S. government promoted a similar campaign for self-sufficiency through gardening by asking individuals on the home front to plant "Victory Gardens" as a way to address food scarcity and supplement food rations. Sleeping Bear Press just recently published a new book in their Tales of Young Americans Series that helps kids learn about the Victory Gardens from the World War II time period.
In Lily's Victory Garden, a young girl named Lily learns about a new way to help out the war effort by growing vegetables. Even though she lives in an apartment, she dreams of having her own huge garden. She tries to apply for her own plot with the local Garden Club, but learns she is too young to qualify. Undeterred by this obstacle, she decides to ask the Bishop family for permission to garden on their expansive property. Mr. and Mrs. Bishop's son recently died fighting in the war, and despite his grief, Mr. Bishop agrees to allow Lily to start her garden as long as she doesn't disturb Mrs. Bishop. Ultimately, Lily learns that her Victory Garden isn't only about growing plants and supporting a cause -- friendships can also blossom and hearts can mend when people work together in a garden.
This book not only offers children a snap shot of a period in history, it also shows them the power of friendship and gives a wonderful example of how a children can help out in their communities. Before reading Lily's Victory Garden, I wasn't familiar with the Victory Gardens of WWII. According to the informational section in the back of the book, "More than 20 million Americans answered the call in 1941 through 1943, producing nearly 50% of all the vegetables, fruit, and herbs for civilian consumption in the United States." The author, Helen Wilbur was actually inspired by her own mother, Edith, who kept her own Victory Garden during WWII. Because they lived on farms, both my grandparents already assisted with large gardens before the war so they didn't plant Victory Gardens, though they do remember the movement. My daughter loves helping out her great-grandparents with their large garden, especially assisting with the potato planting. She liked this book because of the gardening aspect and enjoyed the page where the characters fell in the mud. She even remarked at the illustrator's watercolor illustrations, saying, "I didn't know a boy could paint such beautiful pictures." This heart-warming book about Victory Gardens is perfect to share with elementary school children, especially those that may be helping out with their own community or home gardens.
Wouldn't it be great if it didn't take a war movement to encourage the volume of home produce production and conservation realized during WWII? If everyone followed the advice to "Make Every Day Earth Day" just think what we all could achieve!
Lily's Victory Garden (Tales of Young Americans) by Helen L. Wilber, illustrated by Robert Gantt Steele. Sleeping Bear Press (February 2010); ISBN 9781585364503; 32 pages
(Book Source: Review copy provided by publisher)
Helen Wilbur - Author Website
Robert Gantt Steele - Illustrator Website
We didn't do many indoor craft projects this week, choosing outdoor activities instead. For our stART (story + art) project, my daughter planted violas. It's more of a story-stretcher rather than art, but flower arranging does require some artist talent. She put the yellow flowers in the center and planted a ring of purple flowers around the outside! She's also hoping to help out with bigger gardening projects when the danger of frost in our area has passed.
A Mommy's Adventures hosts the "stART" meme (Story + Art) each week. Hope Is the Word hosts a Read Aloud Thursday link-up as well. Today's Feed Me Books Friday is hosted by Silly Eagle Books. This week we're also participating in 5 Orange Potatoes Children and Nature Awareness Month The Great Outdoor Challenge.
Victory Garden poster public domain image from Wikipedia.
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