________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 35. . . .May 15, 2015


Charlie’s Dirt Day. (A Tell-Me-More! Storybook).

Andrew Larsen. Illustrated by Jacqueline Hudon-Verrelli.
Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2015.
32 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
ISBN 978-1-55455-334-1.

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Gillian Richardson.

**** /4


Finally the parade of people arrives at the park. And there, in the middle of the park, is a big pile of dirt.

A big pile of dirt? All this hullabaloo for a big pile of dirt?

“Step right up!” barks a man in a green uniform. “Welcome to the mayor’s annual Dirt Day Giveaway. We’ve got free dirt for everyone.”

“Free dirt?” says Charlie’s dad. “Is that it? Dirt?”

“It’s not just any old dirt,” says the man in the green uniform. “It’s the richest, dirtiest dirt you’ll ever see. It’s fresh compost. Your gardens will love it.”


internal artYoung Charlie is drawn to the park with many of his neighbours for a special event. The city has been composting recycled kitchen and garden waste and now has a grand supply of rich organic material to distribute to gardeners. When Charlie hears how several neighbours will grow tomatoes, onions and herbs for his favourite meal, spaghetti, he’s thrilled to learn that he can grow plants too -- in pots on his apartment balcony. By the end of summer, he’s able to contribute his own tomatoes to the spaghetti sauce recipe.

internal artIt’s never too soon to teach kids about recycling and composting, and how the cyclical process of decomposition works to give us food. This engaging story shares a youngster’s curiosity, his delight in discovery, his willingness to try something new and his enthusiasm to share and continue his success. Then, in the final pages, the author builds on readers’ interest with facts about how compost is made, how it can be used in community and rooftop gardens and ways to become involved in a personal composting and growing project. There are instructions for creating compost in a cup and growing cherry tomatoes in a small pot. Readers can get their hands dirty and find out what Charlie was so excited about.

     The bright, animated coloured-pencil illustrations combine with questions in the first few pages to arouse curiosity: “What on earth? What is going on?” Who can resist following the “nannies and grannies and moms and dads….and babies too” as they parade to the park? Look closely and you’ll see they all carry a bucket or pot, push a wheelbarrow or pull a wagon. Charlie’s smile says it all as he “cradles the pot [of dirt]in his arms.” On the first page, Charlie’s balcony is bare, but, by the end, he’s lovingly tending a lush collection of potted plants.

     Charlie’s Dirt Day is part of the “Tell-Me-More! Storybook” series, perfect for the youngest readers/listeners to enjoy accessible facts and activities. It would make a great gift for Earth Day!

Highly Recommended.

Gillian Richardson is a freelance writer living in BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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