Friday, May 10, 2019

Picture Book Friday

When Grandma Gives You A Lemon Tree, the debut picture book by Jamie L.B. Deenihan with illustrations by Lorraine Rocha, is a light-hearted twist on the familiar phrase, “When life gives you lemons…”

In this instance, Deenihan imagines what would happen when a gadget-obsessed child, whose birthday wish list is laden with electronics, receives a lemon tree from Grandma instead. What’s the point of a lemon tree? It doesn’t do anything and it requires looking after. Told in the second person, the narrator begins by reminding the astounded child to mind her manners – No faces! No tears! And definitely, no tossing Grandma’s gift! Just smile and say thank you.

Once past her disappointment, the narrator gently guides the girl through the steps of caring for the young tree, sharing a wealth of valuable gardening information with the reader along the way. With the passage of time, the tree matures and so does the young gardener who discovers that there is something even more fun than growing, naming, and decorating her tree.  She can pick lemons, and with grandma’s help, make lemonade (the recipe is included) to sell on the sidewalk. Cash in hand, she heads to the store where we discover her passion has changed. She returns home, not with the once longed for technology, but with an abundance of plants to share with her urban neighbors!

Deenihan does more than celebrate the joys of a garden in this humorous tale. She subtly reminds us of the benefit to be found in patiently working toward a long-term goal, the joy of being outside in nature rather than cloistered with electronics, and the importance of community.

Rocha’s diverse cartoon-style characters are a perfect fit for the urban environment of the story. The illustrations are colorful and richly detailed, encouraging readers to take a second and third look.

A charming story that I happily recommend for home and school libraries!

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