Friday, November 13, 2015

PPBF: Compost Stew

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Compost Stew:
An A to Z Recipe for the Earth
Compost Stew
An A to Z Recipe For the Earth

Written by Mary McKenna Siddals
Illustrated by Ashley Wolff
Tricycle Press, 2010
Grade K-2

Gardening, Environment, How-to

Environmental chefs
here's a recipe for you
to fix from scratch
to mix a batch
of compost stew.

Compost Stew is part alphabet book, part science how to. Told in rhyme, the text goes from A to Z, adding suggestions of unlikely items you can actually add to your compost heap. Apple cores, bananas, and coffee grounds, of course, but also quarry dust and laundry lint. The book includes links to composting instructions and community garden tips. Perfect to get kids involved in community service, environmentalism, and outdoor activity.

What I Love:
The author has set herself quite a challenge, to inform and instruct in rhyme. Even the disclaimer and end note are in rhyme. The finished product is charming and fun to read aloud. I was excited to learn a few unusual ingredients which will benefit my garden. And who can resist Ashley Wolff's paint and collage illustrations? She creates a colorful cast of characters from magazines, fabric, and newsprint, kids of all kinds in polka dots and floral hats. These illustrations are perfect for the recycling theme, from the endpapers to the endnotes and everything in between.

DIY compost tumbler by Ian and Kristina Urquhart
1. Download a PDF for starting a community compost. Check out these articles on composting with kids from Gardening KnowHow or Green Mom Guide.
2. Build your own rotating compost barrel: Bucket-sized from Urban Farm Online or one that's barrel-sized from OneHundredDollarsAMonth.
3. Get a head start on next years garden. Redwood City Seed Company offers free seeds to kids with an adult order.
4. Learn more about the science of earth worms from National Geographic Kids, then build a worm farm with PlanetKidz.
5. Mary Siddals has included a bucketful of links and lesson plans which are a perfect compliment to the book.
6. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Sue

Reviewed by Stacy

Reviewed by Joanne
Reviewed by Kirsten

Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for November 13, 2015 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.


  1. "Environmental chefs.." grabbed my attention. I love that the author wrote this book about composting in rhyme. What a challenge.

    1. She even includes a "chef's note (not an author's note) at the back of the book. Lovely from cover to cover. Hope you enjoy it.

  2. I always think this looks like a self portrait by Ashley. I love environmental books for young kids like this.

    1. Ha Ha. You'll have to ask her sometime! But after all, don't we always end up writing (drawing) ourselves into our books?

  3. What a clever idea! We compost and it does make tge best soil. Can't wait to read this one. Thanks. Great activities to supplement the book.

  4. What a clever idea! We compost and it does make tge best soil. Can't wait to read this one. Thanks. Great activities to supplement the book.

    1. Thanks. I am a bookworm, but there is something profound in being outside and getting dirt under your fingernails.

  5. Wow! I'd love to get this book to help my son and i become more conscious about how we affect the environment and how we can make a difference.

    1. I love how composting has cut down on our garbage and improved out soil.

  6. What a thrill to discover COMPOST STEW being featured as your Perfect Picture Book Friday pick! Thank you so much for choosing my book, Joanne, and for shining such a generous spotlight on it with your lovely review. Many thanks also to everyone who chimed in with their enthusiastic comments. Your kind words are all greatly appreciated!

    1. Thank-you, Mary. Your book deserves PPBF status. We thoroughly enjoyed it. And I hope many teachers and parents will introduce it to their young readers through Susanna's resource. I guess I should email book creators about the reviews. I'm sure I'd like to know if it were my book. Thanks for the idea and your kindness!

  7. This IS a self portrait, Joanne. I never had the wild curls as a child of this age. My mom was too practical to let that happen! Since these illos are made using cut paper collage, I used a paper punch to create the wild, curly edge.
    Than you for the lovely review.

    1. Thanks, and you're welcome. Paper collage fascinates me. Maybe we'll see each other at Highlights in the spring. Do you do collage there? I'd love to take the workshop but am quite honestly a bit intimidated by it. Thanks for stopping by!


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