A couple of days ago I started wondering what to blog about this month. I was feeling pretty smug about not waiting until the last minute this time, but guess what? No ideas, nothing, nada, nichts, rien, niente, nihil, tidak ada, wala, nic, ingenting, kitu. (Google Translate--so much fun!) Anyway, as usual when I'm feeling stuck or squirmy, I laced up my sneakers and whistled for my pup (that's kutsikas in Estonian). "Wanna go look for ideas? Wanna go look for squirrels?" Wise dog wagged his tail yes to both.
We took our usual route, heading east toward the Potomac River and River Farm, which was part of George Washington's huge estate in the 18th century. Now it's the headquarters of the American Horticultural Society (AHS). Aha, inspiration, less than a mile from home! The mission of AHS, according to its website, is "To open the eyes of all Americans to the vital connection between people and plants, to inspire all Americans to become responsible caretakers of the Earth, to celebrate America's diversity through the art and science of horticulture; and to lead this effort by sharing the Society's unique national resources with all Americans."
One way AHS seeks to fulfill these goals is by promoting youth gardening programs. It also paired up with the Junior Master Gardener Program to create the “Growing Good Kids – Excellence in Children’s Literature” award program, which honors outstanding children’s books that promote "an understanding of, and appreciation for, gardening and the environment." Of the 22 winners selected since the first awards were given in 2006, by my count four have been nonfiction titles. They are:
Big Yellow Sunflower, by Frances Barry
Flip, Float, Fly: Seeds on the Move, by JoAnn Macken, illustrated by Pamela Paparone
A Seed is Sleepy, by Dianna Hutts Aston, illustrated by Sylvia Long
Miss Lady Bird’s Wildflowers: How a First Lady Changed America, by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Joy Fisher Hein
Surely there's room for more nonfiction books here. I hope you'll help spread the word about these awards! (If I were April Pulley Sayre's publisher, by the way, I would definitely submit her wonderful RAH, RAH, RADISHES!) And if you're ever in the Alexandria, Virginia, area, I encourage you to visit AHS headquarters at George Washington's River Farm. Take time to enjoy the beautiful grounds and gardens, to learn from hands-on demonstrations about composting and raised vegetable beds, to play in the Children's Garden, to stroll through the Andre Bluemel Meadow down to the Potomac. You might see a bald eagle. You'll almost certainly be inspired.
P.S. In case you're wondering: nada - Spanish; nichts - German; rien - French; niente - Italian; nihil - Latin; tidak ada - Indonesian; wala - Filipino; nic - Polish; ingenting - Swedish, kitu - Swahili