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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Something's Eating the Garden is a children’s picture book written and illustrated by Pam Fries. I began wondering what kind of animal was eating Papa’s garden and tried guessing the identity of the culprit, or culprits. What would go into a garden to grab vegetables and fruits? Well, a frog might be inclined to sneak inside and grab something tasty with its long and sticky tongue. Or, a raccoon looking for tasty carrots to carry off to his den. Or a deer in search of ripe fruits hanging off the branches of Papa’s fruit trees. There were so many possibilities that I feared I’d never finish trying them all, but Papa just smiled or laughed at each of my suggestions, and then he shared the answer.
Something's Eating the Garden is an outstanding example of excellence in children’s literature. The plot is an enchanting mystery that will capture every young listener's attention as they try to solve the puzzle of the disappearing fruits and vegetables. The love that the narrator and Papa share shines through in every question posed and answer given. Papa’s gentle nature and irresistible sense of humor snagged this reader straight away and kept me engaged and involved. Then, there’s the artwork. Pam Fries indicates in her foreword that this was a seven-year project, and I can see why. Each panel is masterfully crafted with attention to detail, marvelous texturing and shading, and beguiling expressions on every suspect’s face. My favorite animal portrait would have to be the elephant. There’s a mischievous look on his face which resonates magically with his dignified wrinkles. I just couldn’t stop looking. And Fries’ panel showing a bear raiding honey in a field filled with flowering trees is ravishingly simple and lovely all at once.
This book is a keeper; one to be read repeatedly and enjoyed for the story, the healthy message it contains, and those lovely panels which might just inspire future artists and set souls dreaming. Something's Eating the Garden is the best children’s book I’ve reviewed so far this year -- it’s most highly recommended.