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Up, Down, and Around
Up, Down, and Around
by Katherine Ayres
Illustration by Nadine Bernard Westcott

This garden is on the move. From seeds dropping into soil to corn bursting from its stalks, from children chasing butterflies to ants burrowing underground, everything in this vibrant picture book pulses with life -- in all directions. Sprightly illustrations set the mood for a rhythmic text that follows nature's course to a final feast of backyard bounty.
Age: 2 Year-olds | Title: Up, Down, and Around  |  Author: Katherine Ayres  |  Publisher: Candlewick Press (MA)
This garden is on the move. From seeds dropping into soil to corn bursting from its stalks, from children chasing butterflies to ants burrowing underground, everything in this vibrant picture book pulses with life -- in all directions. Sprightly illustrations set the mood for a rhythmic text that follows nature's course to a final feast of backyard bounty.

Get your little one interested in fresh vegetables right from the start! Colorful cartoon pictures show a young boy and girl with their dad planting and watering seeds, then seeing the vegetables grow Up, Down, and Around in their garden. Each picture includes the children, a dog, and many smiling bugs learning which vegetables grow tall and which grow into the ground. Rhyming couplets give the story a sing-song cadence, and your child will catch on to the repeating idea of the veggies growing 'up, down, and around'. They may also learn some new words and vegetables, like okra.

The pictures provide a view of growing vegetables that your little one may not otherwise see, either because it is growing in the ground, or you may not have that vegetable in your region. Your child can begin to see that food starts in the ground and grows one direction or another before it ends up on their plate and in their tummy. The ever-smiling faces on the children, animals, and bugs also encourage children to eat healthy showing them how much fun fresh vegetables can be. You can name each vegetable as your child points to it, reiterating each time you're in the kitchen or having a healthy snack. They will recognize their vegetables in no time!

I read this book to my niece when she two, and then took her outside to show her some of the same vegetables growing in our garden. We pulled up a carrot and onion to see how big they were, and checked on the squash which was still small and green. She enjoyed feeling and holding the different vegetables and helped me carry them inside. I later read this book to her again before I gave her a small shovel and a package of flower seeds so she could help me in the garden the next day.

--Audra

All parents are eager to have their kids eat healthy foods.  Read the charming interview Audra Rundle did with Katherine Ayers, and learn why vegetables and gardens get her so excited.

 

Audra Rundle (AR) What do you want children to get out of your book Up, Down, and Around?

 

Katherine Ayers (KA): I hope children will get excited about seeing those giant carrots, and oh my goodness, how many ants are there on the pages, and look there's a worm under the ground.  The sense of wonder is one of the most precious gifts of childhood and I'm hoping my books appeal to that sense.

 

AR: What was the most rewarding aspect of creating and writing Up, Down, and Around?

 

KA: Seeing the art! You write a picture book text and sort of imagine how it might turn out, but once I saw some of Nadine Westcott's sketches I got very excited.  The writing wasn't too hard, as there aren't too many words in this book.  I did fiddle around with the verbs--climb, vine, twine, wind.  That was fun.

 

AR: What is YOUR favorite vegetable?

 

KA: Tomatoes, hands down.  But I had a sort-of rule---I had to like every veggie in the book.  When I was a small child I was a very picky eater, so corn and tomatoes and potatoes were about my only veggies, but these days, I love lots of them.  You didn't ask about a least favorite veggie.  I'll answer that anyway---brussels sprouts---bleah!  But they're my dad's favorite.  All our tongues get to make up their own minds about what tastes good.

 

AR: Do you personally have a garden?

 

KA: I love to play in the dirt.  I grow mostly flowers and flowering shrubs.  We have two houses, so I'm not in one place all summer at the present time.  If I planted veggies in Massachusetts, by the time they ripened, I'd be back in Pittsburgh.  So the bunnies and the deer and the bears would eat them all.  I do plant herbs in a big pot by the back door. That's it for now.  Oh, and my smallest granddaughter likes to eat my begonias. Does that count?

 

AR: What has been the most gratifying experience you've had of a child reading this book?

 

KA: I love it when kids dance to the story.  Probably the most amazing moment came while on tour for the Pennsylvania One Book (Every Young Child) when an entire library full of kindergarten children (300 of them) sang my story to me.  Wow!

 

AR: Is there anything you would change about Up, Down, and Around since itís been published?

 

KA: No.  To me, it's yummy, just as it is.

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