curiousgardenA couple of weeks ago I spent some time (the first this summer) at some bookstores catching up on children’s books. I saw Peter Brown’s latest book, The Curious Garden, at the B&N in Union Square and read it.

I was taken with it immediately. Liam is a little boy who likes to explore. He finds a small, struggling garden in a forgotten corner of his city and decides to take care of it. The garden thrives, and eventually it turns this run-down area into a beautiful wonderland. And other gardeners come out to help take care of it. I’m keeping this title in mind for things like Earth Day or the gardening projects my school does, I think it would be a great read aloud.

chowderI’d never heard of Peter Brown, and I’m always amazed at how many authors are out there that I’m still discovering. So I found more of his books to see if they were as winning as The Curious Garden.

They are.

Chowder is another charmer, and it has a sequel I haven’t read yet. But here we meet Chowder, who is a bulldog unlike other dogs. He doesn’t bury bones in his yard, he builds skeletons like an archeologist. He behaves like a human, and he doesn’t fit in with the other dogs, who think he belongs in a zoo. So when his doting owners take him to a supermarket that now has a petting zoo out back, Chowder thinks he can finally make some animal friends. And his adventure begins. It’s a great story about making friends and fitting in, and I think my 1st graders in particular will love it. Maybe my kindergartners, too.

flightofdodoAnd then I read Flight of the Dodo, Peter Brown’s first book. I think kids will love this one, but be warned that it is a little wacky.

Penguin is sick of being stuck on the ground. He envies the birds who can fly, and he’s sick of being on the ground where they can poop on him. So he gets his other flightless bird friends together to build a flying machine so they can see what it’s like to fly and have the chance to poop from the sky themselves. And so the adventure begins. There is a lot of scatalogical humor here, but also the same makes-me-happy feeling of his later picture books.

The artwork in all the books is stunning and absolutely pleasing to my personal taste. Bright, cheerful, and silly, I think these books are great. I’ll be trying to work them into some lessons this year.