Children's Book Author

Lily’s Victory Garden

 Lilly's Victory Garden

When Lily learns about a lottery for land plots to grow Victory Gardens, she tries to apply. But when the garden club president tells her she’s too young to participate, Lily refuses to give up. She knows where there’s a house with a big yard.
The Bishops live in the largest house in town. It also has the largest yard. But the Bishops’ son was the first soldier from the town to die in the war. Now Mrs. Bishop has hidden herself away in their house.
When Lily asks Mr. Bishop for the use of a small plot within his yard, his grudging approval comes with the stern warning, “No bothering Mrs. Bishop.”
As Lily nurtures her garden, she discovers that the human heart is its own garden, with the same needs for attention and love.
A former librarian, Helen L. Wilbur now works on the electronic side of the publishing world. Lily’s Victory Garden was inspired by family stories of life on the home front during WWII. Helen also authored M is for Meow: A Cat Alphabet. She lives in New York City.
Robert Gantt Steele has illustrated many projects and books about the American experience. He is particularly interested in military and WWII history. Robert lives in northern California.
Horticultural Therapy…
Horticultural Therapy is defined as “a process utilizing plants and horticultural activities to improve social, educational, psychological and physical adjustment of persons thus improving their body, mind, and spirit.” ~American Horticultural Therapy Association.

Horticultural Therapy has been defined as “the use of plants and gardens for human healing and rehabilitation”. It is an ancient practice, but a rather new profession. In the early 19th century, Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, observed and documented the benefits of working with plants for his patients at his Philadelphia clinic. Horticultural Therapy programs are now commonplace at many different facilities in this country and abroad.

An increasingly large body of research attests to the unique values of horticulture as a therapy for people with physical, mental, emotional, and social disabilities. As plants are non-discriminating and non-threatening, anyone can be successful. It doesn’t matter how old or intelligent a person is; their race, religion, and IQ don’t matter either. Plants will respond to anyone providing care. Studies show that success with plants can lead to successes in other aspects of our lives. This is important for individuals whose disabilities or limitations might hinder their accomplishments in other pursuits. ~Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences

“Absolutely true to the era, the illustrations are perfect, each page rendered in that particular beauty and effect I’ve come to know with all Sleeping Bear Press books. That the illustrator was able to capture, not just the true essence and feel of the times, the neighborhoods, the people, even the animals, but the actual quality of illustrative artwork used during that desperate, but caring time in our history when people pulled together, laying aside differences and class prejudices in order to save our country and the world, jumps from the pages. As an artist and illustrator myself, I have nothing but the highest regard for Mr. Robert Gantt Steele’s talent. And the story? It will touch your heart, and you’ll pull it out over and over again to read to your children and grandchildren. A true book to cherish. Bravo, Helen L. Wilbur and Sleeping Bear Press. Lily’s Victory Garden is all anyone could ever hope for and more–a good book for keeping forever, to be cherished by young and old, alike.”

~ DL Keur, Editor

“This touching book can help younger children understand the very personal repercussions of war, ranging from the loss of family members to widespread scarcities of basic consumption goods. Vibrant paintings and an informative author’s note add to the book’s message about the importance of community action and support during times of need.”

~ Yana V. Rodgers, Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

“Gr 2–4—During World War II, Lily collects tin cans with her brother to help with the war effort. Their last stop is always at the house of the Bishops, whose son was the first soldier from their town to die in battle. Lily takes note of the beautiful flowers in the untended yard and longs for a garden of her own. It seems that her dream might come true when she hears that the town park will be turned into Victory Garden plots, to be given to winners of a lottery. Lily applies but is told that she doesn’t qualify, so she obtains Mr. Bishop’s reluctant permission to create her own garden in his yard, on the condition that she doesn’t bother his wife. Lily spends several days planting seeds, hoeing, and watering, and soon Mrs. Bishop begins to help. Everything goes well until the woman slips in the mud and her husband becomes angry. Lily races home in disgrace, but later Mr. Bishop comes by to apologize. He hadn’t realized how happy his once-grieving wife had been when she was working in the garden. The lovely, realistic watercolor paintings capture the text well, and back matter explains other aspects of the American home front. This story, told from Lily’s point of view, is beautifully rendered, emphasizing how tragedy can be surmounted.”

~ Donna Atmur, Los Angeles Public Library  
teachers_choices2011 Storytelling World Resource Honor Award: Stories for Pre-Adolescent Listeners Category
2011 IRA Teacher’s Choices Reading List – Primary Category

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