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The Ugly Vegetables
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It's easy to appreciate a garden exploding with colorful flowers and fragrances, but what do you do with a patch of ugly vegetables? Author/illustrator Grace Lin recalls such a garden in this charming and eloquent story. The neighbors' gardens look so much prettier and so much more inviting to the young gardener than the garden of "black-purple-green vines, fuzzy wrinkled leaves, prickly stems, and a few little yellow flowers" that she and her mother grow. Nevertheless, mother assures her that "these are better than flowers." Come harvest time, everyone agrees as those ugly Chinese vegetables become the tastiest, most aromatic soup they have ever known. As the neighborhood comes together to share flowers and ugly vegetable soup, the young gardener learns that regardless of appearances, everything has its own beauty and purpose. THE UGLY VEGETABLES springs forth with the bright and cheerful colors of blooming flowers and bumpy, ugly vegetables. Grace Lin's colorful, playful illustrations pour forth with abundant treasures. Complete with a guide to the Chinese pronunciation of the vegetables and the recipe for ugly vegetable soup! Try it . . . you'

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In this debut children's book, a girl and her mother chart their own course in spring plantingÄand reap the benefits. The girl narrator is clearly disappointed when, unlike her neighbors who prepare flower gardens, she and her mother plant Chinese vegetables that, her mother insists, are "better than flowers." While the other backyards yield colorful blooms, her garden becomes crowded with "ugly vegetables," lumpy, bumpy and "icky yellow." But when the girl's mother uses them to make a soup, its "magical aroma" attracts neighbors to their doorÄcarrying bouquets of flowers from their gardens. Though the pacing of the text is a bit uneven, the mother's confidence in the garden's success and Lin's message of community togetherness buoy up the narrative. A charming, childlike quality infuses the artwork; boldly hued gouache pictures feature skies and lawns as patterned as the girl's kitchen wallpaper and curtains. For ambitious young gardeners and would-be chefs, an illustrated glossary of the vegetables and their Chinese characters along with a soup recipe conclude the volume. Ages 3-8. (July) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

K-Gr 3 A Chinese-American girl and her mother grow a vegetable garden in a neighborhood where everyone else grows flowers. The girl thinks their plants are ugly compared to flowers, but soon learns that vegetables can make a very delicious soup one that the whole neighborhood wants to try. Soon everyone is growing Chinese vegetables as well as flowers. A recipe for "Ugly Vegetable Soup" is included. Lin's brightly colored gouache illustrations perfectly match her story, creating a patchwork-quilt effect as the neighbors' backyards all converge. Families of all kinds engage in all sorts of activities while children play happily together. Each double-page spread is a different color with a different pattern scattered lightly across it, serving as a frame for the illustrations and as background for the text. A lovely, well-formatted book with an enjoyable multicultural story. Judith Constantinides, East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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