Learn & Grow: Chippewa Falls native publishes debut children’s book
The veggies you’ll find in Ms. Greenthumb’s Garden – peas, carrots, cucumbers, beans, onions, and more – are many of the same plants local author Carol Awe grows in her garden. It was in this plot that inspiration first struck Awe to write a children’s book to educate young people on how plants grow.
In 2015, a friend from New York brought her children, who had never seen plants being grown for food before, to visit Awe’s modest garden. Awe was hot, salty, and covered in dirt, but stepped up to answer all of their questions about raising food. She pulled up sprigs of dill and basil for the kids to smell, and told them all about her work in the plot.
“I guess I am very fortunate, and my kids are very fortunate, to know what these plants are,” Awe said. Her own children, William, 14, and Ben, 12, grew up being able to run out to the garden for fresh ingredients for supper. She was moved to reach out to more children by writing a book.
The characters in the short story are the plants that grow together in Ms. Greenthumb’s garden. Information about how the vegetables and flowers grow from seed to stalk to bloom is conveyed through their interactions. The dill plant and an onion bicker about who smells better, and the overcrowded carrots complain when the beans spread their tendrils into their section.
All the while, Awe teaches kids that bragging isn’t very nice, and to be polite to one another through the little conflicts. At the end of the story, the plants are happy to be harvested by Ms. Greenthumb.
As a first-time writer, Awe found a strategy that worked well for her. She would sketch down ideas when they came to mind, and then sit down to pull them together. She was especially careful with her words and themes, trying to make sure she shared knowledge of gardening in a way that was straightforward and easy to understand.
When she was finished with the text, she worked with Covenant Book Publishing to get the story illustrated and circulating. “It taught me that I have no patience,” she said, smiling. The company worked with her to ensure her vision was achieved, but sometimes the correspondence was infrequent.
After hearing a few positive reviews from her coworkers, who said their children were excited to try healthy vegetables after reading it, Awe is excited to expand upon the first story with a sequel. In the long run, she is considering a book that focuses on the nutrition of home-grown goodies, without sacrificing the fun personification.
Ms. Greenthumb’s Garden is available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, B.A.M., and more.