Celia Planted a Garden: The Story of Celia Thaxter and Her Island Garden

Candlewick. May 2022. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781536204292.
Gr 2-4–Island life in the northeastern United States can be colorless, as grays and whites cover not only the sky and sea but the animals, as well. Celia Thaxter grew up on just such an island, lamenting the limited color palette that surrounded her even while embracing the beauty and tumult of the sea. In response, Thaxter decided to craft a garden filled with vibrant and colorful flowers of many types to enhance the appearance of the island. And as her life took her to new places, she discovered ways to bring the beauty of her garden to paper through words and paint. This narrative biography introduces readers to a woman who was a renowned poet in her time. Rich paragraphs of text are used to tell her story, and these blocks often use repetition of color alongside specific references to myriad natural creatures. Snippets of Thaxter’s poetry are placed alongside several of the images to enhance the text, and these words stand out dramatically from the others in both size and presentation. Paired with the softness of watercolor and pencil lines within each image, the words and illustrations together create a visual tapestry that connects readers to her colorful world. An author’s note and time line of Thaxter’s life help to round out the overall text and provide additional information for readers to peruse.
VERDICT Elementary school-aged readers will enjoy learning about a colorful and creative woman through this work.

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