While The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver is a lovely snapshot of one piece of Carver’s life, I wish there was a little “more” to it. I do not mean Carver’s life as a whole. I was not looking for a biography, but I was looking for more about the growing plants in his garden and learning about them. Gene Barretta has strong text telling a good story. Everything that is told and shown is nice. It is poetic with Rank Morrison’s lyrical illustrations. Might be a hard recommendation, but worth the read.
What really saved this book for me is the art. The illustrations of Morrison really pop. They have interesting color placements. The lights and shadows are important, the colors accent that piece of the story to compliment the text. They are bold, soft and strong all at once. They are pleasant to look at and keep an upbeat tone to things.
The timeline at the end is an excellent addition. It helps bring in the biographical information and puts the “when” Carver was doing things into perspective. Some pieces of information gave me pause and wondered about the “why” behind it. The older child could do research further, while the younger one can just enjoy a story about a boy, his garden and a little history as well. While suited for the aged 5 and up, it would not necessarily not be appropriate for the younger child. However, there is the fact that he was kidnapped as a baby along with his mother (whom was never found) and mention of the death of his brother. These (and other pieces of information) might be difficult for the sensitive or younger child. Also, due to the lack of traditional action, the more active child might have a harder time sitting to listen to this longer picture book.