Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt

Messner, Kate (Author)
Neal, Christopher Silas (Illustrator)
Chronicle Books 2015. 52 pages
First published: 2015
ISBN: 9781452119366 (hardcover)
9781452161365 (paperback)
Original language: English
Dewey: 635
Book type: Non-Fiction

Text Elements:

character, setting

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

“Up in the garden I stand and plan—my hands full of seeds and my head full of dreams.” When a young girl and her grandmother plan a vegetable garden, they encounter two overlapping universes: it’s spring and the ground is almost ready to be planted, while in the dirt are earthworms, slugs and centipedes working hard to prepare the soil. The story toggles back and forth between what’s happening in the dirt and what’s happening above the ground.

The language is poetic and beautiful: “I trail a furrow with my finger and sprinkle seeds in a careful row.… We pat them down to snuggle in the dark.”

The mixed-media illustrations are minimal in detail but provide busy garden scenes with all of the many plant and animal species. On one page, earthworms crawl along the bottom, tiny roots spread below the surface and tiny tender shoots reach above the ground, while wasps and honeybees hover. The colours are rich earthy tones, with dark brown soil and deep green leaves.

Portraying the intricate life that exists above and below the ground as well as the hard work involved in planning, planting and caring for a garden, this story will have readers eager to try out their own garden projects. Following the story is a list of species that can be found in vegetable gardens. From pill bugs to garter snakes, maintaining a garden is an elaborate team effort.

  •  

    Use a graphic organizer to record what you know about gardens. Add to and revise your chart as you read.

  •  

    As you read, note and record interesting words onto index cards. After reading, sort them in different ways. Use these words as inspiration for a garden poem.

  •  

    Explore the information at the back of the book about the various garden creatures. Write about life in the garden from the point of view of one of these animals.

  •  

    Make a class mural that is divided horizontally (for above and below the garden) and vertically (to show the seasons). Use paint, markers or collage to add details to each section.

  •  

    Look at the cover and endpapers. Discuss and list what you know about the topic.

  •  

    Go for a picture walk and discuss the settings, both above and below ground. Add to your class list of garden knowledge.

  •  

    After the read-aloud, add to your knowledge list. Discuss how the information could be organized. Place the words into an appropriate graphic organizer.

  •  

    In teams, plan a garden for your house or school. What will you plant? What creatures will you find in your soil? What will you do to ensure that your garden continues to grow throughout the summer?

  • To adopt effective work methods
  • To cooperate with others
  • To exercise critical judgment
  • To solve problems
  • To use information
  • Environmental Awareness and Consumer Rights and Responsibilities
  • Physical Education and Health
  • Science and Technology