PPBF: The Plant Sitter


A classic to celebrate SPRING and my 2nd Blogiversary!

Author: Gene Zion
Illustrator: Margaret Bloy Graham
Publisher: Harper & Brothers, 1959
Ages: 3 and up
Themes: plants, ingenuity, community
Opening: “I’m a plant sitter!” said Tommy. “That’s nice, dear,” said his mother. “Tell me about it later. I’m going shopping and I’ll be back soon.”


Summary: (from my Kirkus reviews) Tommy’s remarkable skill with caring for plants virtually turns his orderly house into a jungle. Mother frowns, father is perturbed, but Tommy vehemently pursues his career of caring for the vacationing neighbors’ plants. A twist of the familiar baby-sitting situation, a dash of fantasy, and the bouquet of Margaret Graham’s illustrations blend here in one of the most beguiling books of the season.

PS-breakfastI like this book because: it’s a story that celebrates independence, ingenuity, imagination and problem solving. The writing seems simple with no-nonsense vocabulary and a low word-count, but anyone who has attempted to write a picture book knows how difficult that really is. The energy from the initial illustrations is well-preserved with simple wash effects using just three colors. A classic gem!


Resources/activities: this would be a great book to introduce the spring curriculum and germinate plants in the classroom, or the home windowsill; In art class, the book can be used to discuss the blending of primary colors to produce secondaries; watch this is a clip from “RHYTHMS OF NATURE IN THE BARYCZ VALLEY” movie at the bottom of this post, or – HERE


For more Perfect Picture Book picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE.

38 thoughts on “PPBF: The Plant Sitter

  1. This looks wonderful, Julie! A gem indeed! I never knew Gene Zion wrote anything but the Harry books (which I LOVE) so I will have to find a copy of this ASAP! Thanks for sharing and what a perfect title to usher in spring!


  2. Like Susanna and Joanna, I only knew about the Harry books by Gene Zion but this looks like it’s just as wonderful as those! We’re all about plants in the family. 🙂

    Happy blogaversary!


  3. I’ve not seen this book before, but it certainly has stood the test of time and is a classic. I love the idea of a story about plant sitting. Really great book about learning responsibility with a twist of fun. Great illustrations.


  4. I’m having to be a plant sitter these days as the Godzilla pup wants to eat them all! Maybe I need to find this book and read to her. I love illustrations in old books. They seem to do soooo much with so few colors! Thanks for sharing!


  5. Looks like you found a diamond in the lake of picture books. Okay. So how’d you find this? Hmmm. Do you have ESP? I’m wondering because I wanted to find a book like this. So? What gives? Mind reader? EH? I’m gonna have to order this one asap! Thanks, my good buddy. xoxo


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