By Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld, Illustrated by Priscilla Lamont
Alfred A. Knopf, $16.99, 32 pages

Perhaps there is no better place to learn about nature than one’s own backyard. This is one of the takeaways from Secrets of the Garden, a charmingly illustrated romp through a family’s backyard garden. Author Kathleen Zoehfeld leads the young reader through the process of starting, caring for and cultivating a garden, while interweaving throughout information about the relationships between the plants and various animals that make Alice, Pete and their parents’ backyard their home. That these are “secrets” of the garden implies that it is a place for children to explore and discover. The book covers ecology, the seasonal cycle, food chains and food webs, the different parts of vegetables we eat, composting, how people are part of it all and sharing a summer home (the garden) with animal neighbors. Along the way, to help the reader discover the world of gardening are two chickens, providing additional information about the topic being discussed on that page. Warmly illustrated by  Priscilla Lamont, Secrets of the Garden is a wonderful introduction to gardening for young kids and a great story to encourage gardening as a family activity.

Reviewed by Michael Barton