Bookworm | Children’s Books for Gardeners in the Making

The Dead Butterflies Diary, Mrs. Feeny and the Grubby Garden Gang and Zack’s Zany Zucchiniland. Photos courtesy of Black Garnet Press.

Bookworm takes a look at books (old and new) with a garden-, outdoor- or nature-related subject matter or storyline. This time up, garden-themed children’s titles that quickly grow on little ones.

Whether the forest-based Grimm’s fairy tales of “Hansel and Gretel” and “Red Riding Hood” or the 1948 countryside adventure picture books like “Blueberries for Sal,” most traditional children’s titles featured environmentally-centered stories told in warm earth tones. But that was before they took a contemporary shift away from natural settings.

Now, however, those with fond memories of The Garden Gang, the early ’80s line-up of books featuring a collection of characters with names like Tim Tomato, Parsnip Pam and Alice Apple, have a reason to celebrate.

Published this summer, “The Dead Butterflies Diary” tells the story of Betsy, a little girl with a love of composting and butterflies who finds her beloved insects lying lifeless in the family garden. Heartbroken, she vows to attract more butterflies, then sets about solving the who-done-it mystery using little more than her camera, magnifying glass and investigative instincts. With her younger sister, Me Too, in tow, Betsy follows clues to uncover the butterflies’ killer while documenting the search in her personal diary.

Author and master gardener Sandy Baker weaves gardening facts—including butterfly-friendly flowers—into the plot of the 32-page, 8” x 10” color-illustrated book. The title is the third in a series of garden-focused stories for 5- to 9-year-olds, the first one being “Mrs. Feeny and the Grubby Garden Gang,”  published in 2011, and the second, a 2012 work, “Zack’s Zany Zucchiniland.”

Can you think of a better way to nudge them toward an interest in gardening?

Available on and at


About The Editors of Garden Variety

The Magazine-style Daily Lifestyle Blog of Gardening, Outdoor Spaces and Natural Living.
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