Title: Eddie’s Green ThumbEddie's Green Thumb
Author: Carolyn Haywood
Pages: 182
Reading Level: 8 & up
Star Rating: ★★★★★

Written by Carolyn Haywood, author of Back to School with Betsy.

The Story.

Eddie Wilson always gets all puffed up like a balloon whenever he thinks he has something important to say. Take now, for example – he’s at the dinner table and he’s swelling and swelling… and out it comes, he’s participating in a Green Thumb project with school! He’s going to plant a garden in the back yard and grow hordes of yummy vegetables!

Eddie’s parents think this is a great idea and encourage him in his project, but leave all of the work to him. He and his friends Anna Patricia and Sidney all help each other as they plant, grow, and harvest their crops.

But who will win the Green Thumb award at the end of the harvest?

Discussion.

So I’ve talked about the Food Bank a lot. What I haven’t mentioned is that in their book section they have an “old” books section (meaning any hardcover that looks oldish and was published before the 1980s). Anyway, I’ve been having so much fun picking up random children’s books from this section, reading them, and falling in love with them. Eddie’s Green Thumb was one of my recent finds, and it’s already snuggled its way into my favorite books pile.

So yeah, talk about cute. Eddie and his friends (and three brothers, forgot to mention them) all exhibit a fresh, happy approach to life that is clean without being sterile. They get into all sorts of scrapes through forgetfulness, clumsiness, and insensitivity, but never through malevolence. Genuinely hilarious moments occur as they try to sort out life. One example of this comes when the names on their seed packets get mixed up, and they all plant the wrong vegetables in their gardens. It’s long, but you’ll enjoy it.

“Hey, Annie Pat!” said Eddie. “Boodles says these are carrots coming up here where I planted turnips.”

“Well, don’t be silly,” said Anna Patricia. “If you planted turnips, they’re turnips. You can’t plant turnips and get carrots. Just a little reason tells you that.”

“But maybe the envelope was wrong,” said Boodles. “What if it had the wrong picture on it?”

“Don’t be silly” said Anna Patricia. “You get what the picture shows.”

“Well, that picture right there,” said Eddie, pointing to the envelope, “is a turnip. Anybody can tell it’s a turnip.”

Anna Patricia leaned over and pointed to the envelope. “Do you mean this one?” she asked.

“Sure! That one,” said Eddie.

“Oh, Eddie!” said Anna Patricia. “That isn’t a turnip. That’s a radish!”

“A radish!” said Eddie.

“Yes,” said Anna Patricia. “You’ve got radishes coming up here.”

“How can they be radishes when they are carrots?” asked Boodles.

“Well, if they are carrots,” said Anna Patricia,” why is there a picture of a radish?”

“They’re turnips!” said Eddie. “I’ll prove it to you!” He stooped down and very carefully pulled up one of the little plants. The three children put their heads together. They looked at the tiny root. It was round and white with a thin thread hanging from it. “It’s a turnip!” cried Eddie. “It’s a turnip!”

“No it isn’t a turnip,” said Anna Patricia. “It’s a radish. That’s the way radishes look when they are babies.”

“Radishes are red,” said Eddie.

“Eddie,” said Anna Patricia, “don’t you know there are white radishes?”

“Well, I don’t care whether it is a radish or a turnip,” said Boodles. “What I want to know is what I have growing in my garden. Those little plants look just like my carrots.”

“Let’s go see!” said Anna Patricia. The three children ran to get their bicycles. In a few moments they were on their way to Boodles’ house.

Hopping off their bicycles, they ran to look at Boodles’ garden. “Here they are!” said Boodles. “And there is the picture of the carrot. Carrots should be coming up right where that picture is.”

“Oh, Boodles!” said Anna Patricia. “I don’t think that’s a picture of a carrot. I think that’s a banana!”

“A banana!” exclaimed Eddie. “There weren’t any banana seeds, Annie Pat! Anyway, bananas grow on trees.”

“I know bananas grow on trees,” said Anna Patricia. “I just said, the picture is a picture of a banana.”

“It’s a carrot,” said Boodles.

‘Well, what’s coming up looks just like my turnips,” said Eddie.

“You mean your radishes,” said Anna Patricia.

“My turnips!” said Eddie. “Pull one up and you’ll see. They’re turnips.” Boodles squatted down and pulled up one of the plants. The children looked at it. “It’s a turnip!” exclaimed Eddie.

“It’s a radish!” cried Anna Patricia.

“Well, it isn’t a carrot,” moaned Boodles, “and I don’t like turnips.”

“Do you like radishes?” asked Anna Patricia.

“Yes, I like radishes,” said Boodles.

“Well, what are you worrying about then,” said Anna Patricia, “if you like radishes?”

“Because I don’t think they are radishes,” said Boodles. “I think they are turnips. You and Eddie sold those seeds to me and you cheated me, that’s what you did!”

“We did not!” cried Anna Patricia. “It isn’t Eddie’s and my fault if somebody didn’t know how to draw a carrot.”

“Well, even if he had know how to draw a carrot, there would have been turnip seeds inside the envelope,” said Boodles.

“Radishes,” said Anna Patricia.

“Don’t try to mix me up!” Boodles cried. “You sold me the wrong seeds, and it’s your fault.”

“Say!” cried Anna Patricia. “I wonder what is coming up in my garden. Maybe the pictures are wrong in my garden.”

“Let’s go see!” said Eddie.

Off went the three children again, on their bicycles. As soon as they reached Anna Patricia’s, they ran to the garden. Eddie and Boodles looked at all of the envelopes sticking out of the ground. Anna Patricia had planted string beans, radishes, onions, lettuce, carrots, parsley, cucumbers, cantaloupes, and peas. She also had five tomato plants. “Now we’ll see if these little things that are coming up are carrots,” said Boodles.

“Of course they are carrots!” said Anna Patricia. “I drew that picture of a carrot myself on that envelope and I draw very well, I got an A in drawing.”

Boodles stooped down and pulled up some pale green leaves. Once again the children put their heads together. They looked carefully. There was no yellow root and there was no pink root. “What do you know!” cried Boodles. “It’s an onion!”

“But I didn’t plant onion seeds,” said Anna Patricia. “I put in tiny onions, and now you’ve pulled one up!”

“Where did you get the onions?” asked Eddie.

“My father bought them for me,” said Anna Patricia. “They’re called sets. I made the picture of the onion myself.”

“Well, what is planted over there where the onion picture is?” asked Eddie.

“I don’t know,” said Anna Patricia. “I thought they were onions.”

“We’ll have to pull one up to see,” said Eddie. “This is like playing grab bag. You never know what you’re going to get.”

This time Anna Patricia pulled while the boys watched. Up came a little carrot. “It’s a carrot!” Anna Patricia shouted. “I guess I got the pictures mixed.”

“You sure are mixed up!” said Eddie. “That isn’t a carrot, it’s a radish!”

“Silly!” said Anna Patricia, holding the carrot up. “Anybody can see that’s a carrot!”

“Radish!” said Eddie, and they all laughed. [pgs. 55-64]

Now that they all have vegetables they weren’t expecting to grow and mostly don’t like, they agree to set up a farmers market for their extra produce. After having scant customers, they develop and ingenuous marketing strategy that earns them much business.

In a very sweet but sad scene, Eddie discovers a rabbit’s nest in his garden. He plans a way to move the nest, then watches to see what happens when the mother returns. As Eddie’s waiting time stretches out, his older brother senses that something may have happened to the mother rabbit. He goes out to look for it and finds it dead. He buries it, then comes home and very gently tells Eddie the news. It was so sweet. :’(

I loved this scene, too. In it Eddie has just dropped what he hoped would be a prize-winning watermelom, and Sidney happens to tag past.

“Eddie!” cried Sidney when she saw the watermelon mess. “Eddie, what happened?”

“Can’t you see?” cried Eddie.

“But what happened?” said Sidney.

“I dropped it,” replied Eddie. “I tripped over that stone.” Eddie picked up the stone and flung it with all his might.

“Oh, Eddie!” said Sidney. “Is it your nice watermelon that you were going to take to school?”

“Of course!” said Eddie. “Don’t be so stupid! What other watermelon did I have?”

“Well, don’t be so rude,” said Sidney. “I’m being sympathetic. You don’t call people stupid when they’re being sympathetic.” [pg. 170]

:’D I love how instead of responding in anger, Sidney just cuts to the heart of the issue. Don’t be rude to people who are sympathizing with you. : )

Eddie is no longer able to win the Green Thumb Award, but at the dinner table that night his father tells him,

“Well, you get the Green Thumb Award from me,” said his father. “We had the best vegetables I have ever eaten, and they all came out of your garden.” [pg. 182]

:)

The kids jokingly call each other Santa Claus a few times.

Conclusion. Fun, fun, fun. My kids will definitely read this one.

Review © 2014 Laura Verret

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