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*Mrs. Spitzer's Garden* by Edith Pattou, illustrated by Tricia Tusa
Also illustrated by Tricia Tusa:

Wing Nuts: Screwy Haiku
Mrs. Spitzer's Garden
by Edith Pattou, illustrated by Tricia Tusa
Grades K-2 32 pages Harcourt May 2001 Hardcover    

There is a popular bias that illustrated books are essentially reserved for children. Mrs. Spitzer's Garden, by its name and cover, might mislead you into taking that a step further. One read shall ensure the opposite. The book also sends across a simple and powerful message to the adult reader.

Mrs. Spitzer is a teacher in nursery school, much like the kindergarten teachers who initiate a child's foray into school life. But her students are unusual: they are seeds. Nevertheless, Mrs. Spitzer knows her job. She, with her experience, knows how to nurture each of the seeds. She works hard and prepares ground to allow their growth. She is a proficient gardener and knows exactly how to create a beautiful garden.

Mrs. Spitzer knows that the seeds that she has been given are all different. She knows it is her responsibility to preserve their identities. Hence, she gives each one what it needs. Through her conscientious efforts, she is able to raise a class of healthy plants by the end of the year. They leave her classroom but keep growing toward the sun while Mrs. Spitzer readies herself for another set of seeds.

The book's message is encrypted, subtly didactic. The seeds are actually an analogy of young children who a teacher nurtures; it is not pompous about the role of a teacher. Through a hitherto children's medium, this worthwhile story reaches a different audience.

The illustrations are colorful and pleasant. Mrs. Spitzer looks motherly, affectionate and instantly likeable. The pictures complement the story, but the colored pencil look could be replaced by a watercolor allure.

Mrs. Spitzer's Garden is a readable visual treat that leaves readers young and old contented and positive after the perusal.

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  Maansi Verma/2007 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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