I’ve been thinking about writing a book for a while. My problem was that I didn’t know what to write about. I felt like the world didn’t need another ‘what to plant when’ book. My shelves are already heaving under the strain of maybe 30 books that say the same thing, over again.
So I decided not to write a gardening book but to write and illustrate a children’s book about gardening – specifically vegetable gardening.
When my world was turned upside down in 2008 and I had Jackson, the focus of my life changed in a way I had not really expected. I now started to see everything with reference to Jackson and future generations. For instance, before Jackson was born I was just growing vegetables because it was my hobby and I liked to do it (nothing wrong in that). Now, I’m doing it so that he will be able to experience the taste of home grown vegetables and be able to recognise the difference between a Carrot and a Parsnip.
I started to wonder how I would help him learn about growing vegetables and decided that a story with himself as the lead character would do the trick. So I wrote Jackson’s Garden. In it he is the head gardener and is very good at sowing and growing and watering his seedlings. Occasionally, he will encounter creatures that inhabit his garden; snails, bees, butterflies, ladybirds and worms. He learns how these help or hinder him in his efforts to grow and in the process how to be kind to them – yes even the snails!
At first I thought I would only print one book for Jackson but then I realised that other people might find it useful too. So I decided to self-publish it (book publishers take too long and might not have taken it anyway). And I started to draw my own website (above). Now, Jackson’s Garden, book 1 is being printed as we speak (eek!). I haven’t seen the finished article yet and I’m very nervous about it. But when it arrives it will be available to buy via the Jackson’s Garden website. It won’t be expensive. I’m not doing it to become a publishing mogul, I’m just looking to cover costs and make enough to print book 2.
Each book will come in a cute little box, packed with straw and tied with garden twine, with either a free packet of seeds…
… or some cool stickers.
Please, let me know what you think. If you think it’s a good idea, whether kids will like it, ideas for stories or how you think I can get the word out about it. Any input is greatly appreciated. Anyway, I hope you like it and as Jackson would say, ‘Yey!’
Well done you, I think it is an excellent idea and I hope you can spread your knowledge and love of the subject to the future generations. Good luck
I think this is a fabulous idea!
I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that I am a bit of a hippy and find myself swearing at tv and radio stories about GM foods and the like.
I have a nephew who has loads of toys and is a little bit spoilt. I think his world will be very different to mine growing up. But one thing he does have in common with the child me is playing with mud and growing things, so this is a marvellous present that I can give him and try and keep alive some of those more innocent times.
Get printing ;-)
This looks fantastic! I find it amazing that you can find the time to do this as well as your gardening and looking after Jackson!
I’ll definitely be buying a copy :)
This is really beautifully designed. It looks so personal!
Stunning watercolours – love the snail! :)
This is absolutely stunning, I think the idea and the way you have done it are superb as is the watercolours and technique. I will be ordering one!
Lovely lovely lovely! Such a wonderful way of combining two things you love and I’m sure that other parents out there will be really excited to get their hands on a copy…I definitely am.
Gillian, that looks beautiful. I will definitely buy a copy for Alys! If you need any self-publishing tips, give us a shout – we have plenty :0)
This looks amazing Gill. Nice work!
Congratulations on actually having the guts and passion to do what you really wanted to do! I’m sure the book series will be a big success!
What a fab idea, it looks so nice and colourful!
oh and please tell us how it goes and let me know when you are selling it so i can have a look for my little sweetpeas :-)
The illustrations look awesome! I love the seeds and stickers idea.
Gill, you are such an inspiration! Jackson is so blessed to have you as his mom! I can’t wait to see the finished product. We might have to send Carson to Aunt Gill summer gardening boot camp to get the gardening education he needs like Jackson. :)
It’s gorgeous. I love the idea and the look of it. The illustration style is spot on. Can’t wait to see the printed version.
I think this is a fantastic idea! Such a great story for Jackson to learn, and I’m sure other moms would love this great learning tool as well! The seed and stickers idea is really sweet. The illustrations are great!
Beautiful book and a lovely idea. Well done. Love the idea of seeds with the book ;0)
I love this! I just hope you’re still selling it when I have kids!
Hey, great idea!!! The whole package is so well thought out, and it looks brilliant. I wish you all the best of luck! :-)
I love this idea!
What an absolutely lovely idea – and I love your watercolour illustrations.
I don’t have children but if and when I do I hope that I can share my enthusiasm for producing fresh, healthy food in the way you are encouraging Jackson to share yours. Keep up the good work!
I have been reading your blog for a looooong time and never ever commented but I just had to say what a wonderful idea I think this is …
Like you I started with an allotment because I loved growing my own food, but I became a mum in 2008 (to wonderful twin boys)and I want to carry on growing food, even if time is limited so that my boys know what vegetables look and taste like.
Maybe they are a bit young for such a book (16 months) but I will probably get it for them for next growing season. I don’t think they are many books like this around and LOVE the idea… and really hope you can publish number 2 … and 3 and 4 !!
Keep us posted!
Very cool idea and well done with actually seeing it to fruitation. It is beautifully illustrated and presented.
wow i just finished reading the archives of MTP, way back to the start. The book is a great idea – way too many people live off chips and “fish fingers”. I dont yet have a garden of my own, but as soon as i do the grass is coming up and plants are going in. Where i live, Melbourne Australia, there is a wonderful organisation that saves and sells heirloom seeds/plants, called The Diggers Club – when i get a garden i will grow purple carrots and yellow beetroot :)
yay for tasty non-supermarket food!
The book looks gorgeous: love the illustrations. What a great way to get kids excited about gardening
wow great book and what a lovely idea, it’s important to teach our children where food comes from, what it actually looks like, it doesn’t come chopped up in a polythene bag! Best of luck!!
It’s sure to keep children interested with those beautiful illustrations. I can see that a lot of thought has gone into the whole package, I’m sure it will do very well.
This is a brilliant idea. I have a 16 week old and I’m already trying to introduce her to the delights of growing your own.
I’ll definitely buy a copy. Never too early to start learning.
Getting in contact with community gardens might be a good idea to distribute the book. They’re bound to agree with the importance of teaching children where their food comes from.
Well done it’s a beautiful book. I’m sure this will be passed down to your great great grand kids. Hope it does well for you.
It’s got to be a pack of free seeds with it of course!
How utterly cute and what a good idea!
Can;t wait to get my hands on a copy for my little pals to pass on the joy of it. I think you’ve pitched it beautifully. You are an inspiration!
I think the enormous amount of comments say it all – what a lovely memento for your family and made with love. My friend works in a children’s library, so I’ll pass this on to her when you launch… perhaps that’s another way to get some distribution through your local library network?
This looks wonderful Gill. I’ll definitely be after a copy for Martha. She’ll love it – she’s already a keen gardener and asking when we can start planting again this year. The wonder on her face when she sees (and tastes) the things she’s planted is truly awesome.
I’d love her to have early memories of picking and eating fruit & veg straight from the plant, just like I have from my grandparents’ amazing garden. Tomatoes, peas and raspberries never quite live up to those memories though!
Like some others who’ve commented on this thread, I have enjoyed your blog enormously but never ‘spoken up’ before. I have a three year old and I love getting her involved in my/our veg and flower growing experiments. Your beautiful book would really help to make that connection with all the things I’m trying to show her when we’re out in the garden. The illustrations are beautiful. Can’t wait to buy a copy. Bravo Gillian.
It’s a brilliant idea. I want to get on for my new granddaughter but at 5 months it’s perhaps a little early. Although she already plays the rattle in a band at nursery!
Great! i think it’s very sweet and a good idea and a good deed and all around wonderful. I’d love to review it on my own site, when it’s out, if that’s ok with you, will you let me know? I will certainly buy copy even if it just sits on my bookshelf, but it would be a lovely book to have or to give away :-)
It sounds and looks delightful! Best wishes with it all — but please don’t send any straw to Australia!
All this talk about slugs, thought I’d share this with you all.. I heard it on John Peel’s Home Truth’s radio show..
Old Adam went to heaven,
As a gardener surely should,
They must need help with all that Holy hoeing.
When God walked into the garden,
as he obviously would,
and old Adam said,
Sir, something I’d be knowing,
When the world was new and pretty,
and you said that it was good,
with the cabbages and carrots nicely growing
Why spoil your perfect plan,
created just for Man,
by adding all the bugs,
and particularly slugs
Why slugs, dear god, why slugs ?
God smiled and said,
This morning a slug was by my side.
And we spoke of things, like cabbages and life.
Then he asked me quite politely, with a dainty little glide,
Why introduce a biped that is always causing strife,
A selfish noisy creature, with a clumsy crashing stride,
and a flower picking menace, called his wife.
Spoiling paradise for Bugs,
created for us slugs,
by adding to your plan,
that revolting creature, Man.
Why man, dear god, why man ?
Wow. I got in on the conversation a little late. This really is great, though. I don’t have kids, but I think it’s an important time to get them interested in things like vegetable gardening.
Congratulations on this, and I’m excited to see how it goes.
Great Idea, I will buy one for me!! I am such a learner when it comes to veg growing – when will it be on sale????
I love the book Gillian. My kids are 10 and 6 and we have great fun pottering (at a small scale, in our veggy garden). We also got hens last year so we have lovely fresh eggs every day too. I think it is really important for kids to see food grown, raised and cooked at home and to appreciate that it simply does not just come from the super market! An aunt got us started, she gave my little girl a beautiful box full of vegetable and herb seeds and a simple book for Christmas and that was what got us going. We photographed stuff as we went along and kept a little scap book. I only found your blog last year and I love it! Keep up the good work!
Thankyou, everyone, for the lovely comments. I’m very encouraged. I will let you know when the book is available. Thanks again!
I love it and your blogs keep up the good work blessings Tracey
it’s beautiful and I love that you also have the stickers option, as I would love to send this book to some friends and family back in the US – and know that the seeds can’t be sent so easily!
Just edging off the book subject for a minute, I have a very small space for growing things and I have heard of a potato barrall planter. Have you ever made one? If so, out of what? I am keen to start one up – any ideas? I dont want to buy one, I would rather recycle something I have got???
How fantastic well done.
Fantastic! Love the idea and I just love the style of your painting – the style reminds me of the Jolly Postman (Allen Ahlberg) book with pop up sections and things you take out of sleeves, which I used to love as a child (okay….not so much a child) – makes reading interactive.
I’d defo buy – godchildren ahoy!! Fingers crossed it does well! Cat x
You are truly talented! I think its definitely a great idea. I’m not sure we see a lot of young folks in gardens these days and kids eating veggies!!!
To promote gardening for kids is wonderful idea and your ideas are amazing. Go for it! I think you’ll be a big hit!
The book looks lovely. It’s brightly/simply illustrated like those other favourites The Hungry Caterpillar and the Spot stories. Children will love it. I’m a retired nursery teacher, the 3/4yr olds I used to teach would have loved this book. Good luck with your venture.
That book is going to sell like hotcakes! I love the idea, and that it comes with some seeds is just the sweetest idea ever. I do find that kids of that age just love to help in the garden and get so excited to see things spring up! Can’t wait until it comes out :)
HI Gillian –
I love this little book– I have a 4 years old little gardener boy — he could sit amongst my raised vegetable beds and potter for hours in the summer. I would love to give one of these to him.
Also — I discovered your site (in the last couple days) and (I hope you don’t mind) am featuring your garden makeover in a regular Before and After feature I do on my blog….I’m going to mention the book too. Can’t wait to come back and keep reading about everything else you have going on here!
I think it’s a really great idea, plus it really taps into the public psyche at the moment, encouraging healthy living and a healthy lifestyle, and where better to start with this message than the new generation! Good luck, I hope it goes well!
Wow, Gill that looks great! You’re a wonderful artist and that is a very cute idea for a book and packaging. Brilliant!
CONGRATULATIONS, Gill! We love everything about your new book…the concept, the artwork, it’s all very creative….especially the seeds. Nice touch. What a wonderful Birthday present for Jackson!!!! We are so very proud of you! NICE WORK!
Bravo for publishing the book yourself, thus keeping control and not having some idiot telling you that they love what you do but just do it different (could this be the voice of experience talking?). Why do you seem reticent about making money out of your venture? I know it can be disappointing when that is what you would like that then doesn’t happen, so coming at it from your perspective is nice and safe. But make the most of your considerable talent – rule the world girl!
What a beautiful book. My little boy is a similar age and I cant wait to get a copy for him! The packaging look perfect too – a lovely finshing touch!
Lovely! Such attention to detail and gorgeous packaging. Would make a lovely present. I’m all for children experiencing growing veg as a normal part of life like brushing your teeth! I have been gardening with my son since he was a year old. Best of luck with it!
Looks pretty cool!
I started working on a business this year after being a stay at home mom for a year with very similar convictions as I read in your blog. I always loved working on my garden and growing vegetables as a hobby. After the birth of my son, I was hyper-sensitive to live a more organic life…it was really scary how little people knew about the food they were giving their developing infants! I want to support your book because I love your blog and your desire to do something greater for the future in the name of your son. I hope to order one of these as birthday gifts for all the children I know who need their first vegetable garden! Thank you for your passion! I especially love the special touch you intend to add to each book delivery. Congratulations from one gardening mom to another!!!!
Stephanie, Thanks for your kind words. If you email me I’m sure we can chat about sending you some books.