One of the many lessons we have learned from the events of the last year is the importance of nature to our well being and happiness. Those who are lucky enough to have their own garden have relished being able to use it and to meet up with others in it. Daily family walks have revealed hitherto unknown local green spaces for many and the role of nature as both a solace and escape during lockdown has been reported and commented on. Within my own family we have noticed more children exploring the local woods with their parents and my sister’s young granddaughter has loved planting and watering seeds, watching insect and bird life in the garden and learning the names of trees in the local park.
Sometimes little people need to be guided in how to appreciate and care for their natural world and picture books are wonderful tools to support this both in the family and in schools. Enter Scallywag Press who have within their catalogue some perfect books to do just this. The In the Garden series by Rob Ramsden are books that I would particularly like to share with you as I have grown rather fond of them.
I Saw a Bee is the first of the In the Garden series by Rob Ramsden which celebrates the joy of nature and aims to teach very young children about the world around them. With charming illustrations and a rhythmic text which is great to read aloud this gentle book encourages children to learn to live happily alongside nature even if they may initially be a little wary of some of its inhabitants. Bonding with a bee is a positive message to pass on as we know how important these creatures are to our lives and this is done in a happy and comforting manner. With plenty to spot as the book is shared in a garden of flowers, butterflies, ladybirds and snails this is a delightful first nature book.
Rob Ramsden’s second book in the series is We Found a Seed which is a perfect introduction to the life cycle. The little boy, friend of bees, is now joined by a girl and together they find a tiny seed in the garden and although at first they don’t know how to care for it gradually they discover what the seed needs to thrive and as the seasons and weather change it transforms into a beautiful sunflower. As winter approaches and their flower droops and dies the two children now know from their own experience what to do with the seeds that drop from the dying flower. Within a short text this book conveys so much and this is a clever depiction of the life cycle which would be invaluable in an early years setting or infant classroom. The illustrations are a delight with plenty for little ones to spot and actions for them to copy.
The latest title in this particular series is We Planted a Pumpkin and although undoubtedly destined to be on wish lists for Halloween this also has a place now as we plan our planting for the coming seasons. The friends from the previous book are now more confident and, clutching their packet of seeds on the opening pages, they know exactly what they need to do next. This growing awareness is such a positive aspect of the series and I particularly like the way the friendship has developed alongside their understanding of nature. Children familiar with the previous books may find this encouraging too. This charming, clever book is full of information and our two friends and the reader or listener will learn a great deal as the whole process from seed to Halloween lantern is shown.
With each book I have become a bigger fan of this lovely series of books and they are perfect for home, school or nursery. Scallywag Press have also created a selection of resources linked to these books adding to their appeal. There are teaching notes for
We Found a Seed written by Janine Woolston available here and a pumpkin spinner to cut out and make here to use alongside We Planted a Pumpkin.
The series is available to purchase via Bookshop.org by clicking on the titles above or at your local independent bookshop. I should like to thank the publishers for providing my review copies.
You may like to try some other titles from this publisher and one of my favourites, on an environmental theme, is The Tale of the Whale featured in my recent Pick of the Picture Books.