Have you ever made a birthday wish list and then received something so far afield from what you asked for that you cringed as you opened the present?
And was it from someone you loved? Did you smile and say “thank you!” with enthusiasm?
Here we have a little girl who’s written her list, one that includes a robot dog, drone, computer, phone, remote control car, and headphones.
Grandma may have read this list, but she has other ideas, as Grandmas often do. Like unplugging her granddaughter from all that technology and giving her a LEMON TREE, instead.
Written in second person point of view, the reader becomes this little girl, who then gets some helpful coaching about being polite to Grandma and nice to the tree…nice as in DO NOT HARM YOUR LEMON TREE.
Cue the fantasy sequence about all the dire things she could do to that tree. But she won’t do any of them. Instead, she dutifully nurtures and protects her tree. Brings it inside during the winter, repots it, and makes sure it has plenty of light.
Think you know where this is going? The little girl will harvest lemons in the summer, make lemonade, and discover the wonders of entrepreneurship through her lemonade stand. Well, you would only be partially right.
This book is about so much more. It’s about how one small tree can trigger urban renewal and foster community. When the little girl takes her hard-earned lemonade money to the store—finally!—to buy what she really wants, it turns out that caring for the tree has changed her priorities.
The end papers of the book, the BEFORE:
And the AFTER:
provide all the clues you need for how this story ends. Grandma may be a secret agent for what we call the Friends of the Urban Forest here in San Francisco.
It also turns out that greening your neighborhood makes everyone and everything more neighborly. Another interesting fact I learned from a perfect picture book last week: Your body releases serotonin when bacteria in soil come into contact with your skin. Gardening makes you feel better!
- Figure out ways to “green” the area around your home, planting wildflower seeds or small annuals in pots if you don’t have any open patches of ground. If you can, plant a tree!
- Volunteer to work in a community garden near your home.
- Make your own lemonade from scratch, using the recipe included in the book.
- Make your own lemonade stand and sell homemade lemonade and cookies.
- Write secret messages in invisible lemon juice ink.
Title: When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree
Author: Jamie Deenihan
Illustrator: Lorraine Rocha
Publisher: Sterling, 2019
Ages: Pre-K through grade 4
Themes: Community, birthdays, sharing
For more perfect picture book recommendations, please visit Susanna Hill’s website.