Diane Prather's columns appear in the Craig Daily Press and Saturday Morning Press. You can call her at 824-8809.
Planting the garden can be a family affair, and that's what a mother and her children are up to in "Mortimer's First Garden," this week's featured picture book.
However, Mortimer, the book's main character, isn't human at all. He's a cute little brown mouse that lives in the family's home.
The book was written by Karma Wilson, author of the popular "Bear Snores On." The cute and colorful illustrations were done by Dan Andreasen.
Little Mortimer Mouse doesn't know anything about gardens. As the book opens, he's standing on the window sill, looking out onto a brown scene. Nothing is green yet, and the day is gray and gloomy. Mortimer is thankful that he has three sunflower seeds left from those that he stored away last fall.
Mortimer breaks the shell on one of the seeds as Mother and her two children come into the room. Mother says it's springtime, and that means garden time. Each of the children has a packet of seeds, and they take the seeds out and look at them. Seeds!
Mortimer's ears perk right up to get a better listen. He's already breaking the shell on a second sunflower seed.
Mother says that when they plant a seed in dirt and water and then the sun shines, the seed will grow into a green plant that will make seeds and vegetables. It's a miracle.
Mortimer, who has been paying attention, thinks that planting seeds in the dirt is downright funny.
Who would put food in the dirt?
But then Mortimer thinks about it. Could Mother be right? He looks at his remaining seed. What if it could turn into more seeds?
So when the family goes outside to plant their garden, Mortimer goes, too, and he takes his seed with him.
It's quite a job to dig a hole for the seed; at least it is for a mouse. But finally the seed is planted, and Mortimer waters it using an acorn's cap.
The next morning it's raining, but Mortimer checks out the place his seed is planted, anyway. Nothing!
Boy, Mortimer is unhappy. He stomps his foot on the ground and considers digging the seed up so he can eat it. But Mortimer decides to give it more time.
The next morning, it still is raining. When Mortimer checks out his "garden," he finds no change. This time, he's even more serious about digging up the seed before it rots. But as Mortimer stands there dripping wet from the rain, he hears a voice. It says, "Wait."
The voice makes Mortimer feel warm inside.
This is a sweet, inspirational book that parents might read with their younger children before garden-planting time. The book is intended for children ages 4 to 8.
The Mortimer Mouse character first was introduced in "Mortimer's Christmas Manger."
This week's book was published in 2009 by Margaret K. McElderry Books (an imprint of Simon & Schuster Publishing). The hardcover book sells for $16.99. It also can be found at the Craig branch of the Moffat County Libraries.
Diane Prather can be reached by calling 970-824-8809 or by writing to her at P.O. Box 415, Craig, CO 81626.