The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver

by Gene Barretta (Author) Frank Morrison (Illustrator)

The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

The inspirational story of George Washington Carver and his childhood secret garden is brought to life in this picture book biography by the author-illustrator team behind Muhammad Ali: A Champion Is Born. This nonfiction picture book is an excellent choice to share during homeschooling, in particular for children ages 4 to 6. It's a fun way to learn to read and as a supplement for activity books for children.

When George Washington Carver was just a young child, he had a secret: a garden of his own.

Here, he rolled dirt between his fingers to check if plants needed more rain or sun. He protected roots through harsh winters, so plants could be reborn in the spring. He trimmed flowers, spread soil, studied life cycles. And it was in this very place that George's love of nature sprouted into something so much more--his future.

Gene Barretta's moving words and Frank Morrison's beautiful paintings tell the inspiring life and history of George Washington Carver, from a baby born into slavery to celebrated botanist, scientist, and inventor. His passion and determination are the seeds to this lasting story about triumph over hardship--a tale that begins in a secret garden.


Publishers Weekly

Barretta opens this sensitive biography on a moment of triumph as Carver overcomes the scorn of a roomful of white congressmen in 1921. Told he has only 10 minutes to make his case, he enthralls them, then talks for another hour. A portrait by Morrison shows Carver leaving the chamber, glad to have "share what he knew." This incident anchors an exploration of his young life. Forbidden an education, Carver teaches himself by patient experimentation with flowers that he cultivates in secret "so no one could find them or tease him." Eventually, he becomes a local asset: "Here comes the Plant Doctor," neighbors say. Barretta explains why peanuts were crucial (cotton had exhausted the soil) and celebrates Carver's formidable success as peanuts become the South's most popular crop. "Regard Nature. Revere Nature. Respect Nature" were his prescient commands. Through myriad lush garden scenes and impressive portraiture by Morrison, Carver emerges as a generous figure, a "living folk hero," able to do whatever he set out to and "always ready to serve humanity." Ages 4-8. (Jan.)

Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

PreS-Gr 3—George Washington Carver is best known as an agricultural expert who discovered versatile uses for the peanut. This story focuses on his first garden. Hidden beneath the trees where no one could tease or belittle him, Carver studied nature and the "more he experimented, the more he learned." The narrative starts in 1921 with Carver addressing Congress on the importance of the peanut and impressing an audience of white men at a time when "African- Americans were...treated assecond-class citizens." Readers are then transported back to 1874, to the Missouri farm where Carver was born into slavery, and then to the end of slavery and the planting of his first garden. The narrative then focuses on Carver's determined search for education and finally his work as a teacher at the Tuskegee Institute. The beautiful oil on board illustrations show the wonder of young Carver as he contemplates the petals on a flower or the first green sprouts of spring. Barretta's prose, combined with Morrison's art, fully illuminates the depth of Carter's considerable contributions to the science of agriculture, the farming community, and racial equality. Back matter includes a time line of Carver's life, a bibliography, and suggestions for further reading. VERDICT A well-thought-out biography that highlights a different side of Carver and will be a first purchase for school and public library collections.—Suzanne Costner, Fairview Elementary School, Maryville, TN

Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
Classification
Nonfiction
ISBN-13
9780062430151
Lexile Measure
-
Guided Reading Level
0
Publication date
January 20, 2020
Series
-
Age Range
4 - 8 years
Texas Bluebonnet Awards Master List
None 2022

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