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In Our Backyard Garden    by Eileen Spinelli & Marcy Ramsey order for
In Our Backyard Garden
by Eileen Spinelli
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2004 (2004)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In Our Backyard Garden is full of free verse accounts of an extended family's backyard experiences through the seasons, from planting a tree in honor of a new baby to a family picnic, a perfect fall day, raking leaves and Halloween, the first snowfall, Christmas, spring, and a family wedding. It ends with an outdoor bedtime lullaby. Marcy Ramsey's illustrations bring the family to life, from new baby to the little girl's beloved Granddad.

I enjoy the touches of humor, such as 'No beets' at the picnic, since Aunt Sissy and Aunt Lois 'had a falling out' over a spilled beet. The serpentine catalyst to Aunt Sissy's romance is also funny. Lines like 'I want to hug the fading golden light. / I do not want this perfect day to end' bring back the embracing magic and contentment of family time. And I love the relationship between child and Granddad, both unafraid to look silly encouraging a growing pumpkin, '"Way to go, Jack!" / 'Way to grow, Jack!"', and sharing their joy in the outdoors.

It's a heartwarming picture book, full of love and laughter, and showing a family in all its seasons and squabbles, from a child's point of view. At the end, the small girl tells us 'Here, in my backyard garden / memories twinkle like stars. / I can easily / fill my pockets with them.' Do read this one together; it will warm your hearts.

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