Holly Bloom's Garden
Written by Sarah Ashman and Nancy Parent
Illustrated by Lori Mitchell
A Pennsylvania Young Readers Choice Award 2005-2006 nominee (K-3)

Selected as an
Accelerated Reader book

From School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-Holly Bloom is called "Sweetpea" by her mom and "Ladybug" by her dad. She longs to grow flowers like those of her
mother, Iris, and siblings, Rosie and Bud, but she doesn't seem to have the knack. Everything she plants either wilts or droops.
Finally, in a burst of inspiration, she creates a glorious garden out of tissue paper, crepe paper, and pipe cleaners that is
"guaranteed to last forever." This is a satisfying resolution to a story of perseverance and self-discovery. However, the writing style
is a bit precious, and the characters' overly cute names detract from the tale's merit. Lush, detailed drawings in pencil and acrylics
fill the pages with sunny cheer. - Sally R. Dow, Ossining Public Library

From Children's Literature
Holly feels like a misfit; she's "as grouchy as the thorns on a rosebush." Her mother, sister, and brother all grow beautiful flowers,
but all of Holly's attempts at gardening flop—literally. Her family tries to help, but nothing seems to work. After her dad, an artist,
gently reminds her that there are many different kinds of tools to help a garden grow, Holly has an idea. In her own way she grows
a beautiful garden, full of color and life, a garden that will last forever. The authors have fun with language throughout the book,
using, for example, various plant names for the characters. There is Holly's sister Rosie, her brother Bud, and her mother Iris; her
mother's nickname for her is Sweetpea. Interestingly, it is her non-gardening father, Harold, who uses the only other non-botanical
name in the book—he calls Holly "Ladybug." The authors play with alliteration—"her dahlias drooped before she even had dessert"
—without overdoing it. The illustrator has created lovely pictures with a slightly old-fashioned flavor, using acrylic paints with black
pencil outlines. Though the human figures are at times a tad flat, the warmth and love in the family interactions shine through. This is
a sweet story about a young girl who persists despite multiple failures, finally finding her own unique way to shine. A common
enough theme in children's literature, it is used here without a heavy hand, creating a book that is pleasing to the ear, eye, and mind.
- Dawn Elizabeth Hunt

From Booklist
PreS-Gr. 2.  Holly Bloom comes from a gardening family, but she seems to have a brown thumb. Her mother tells her that some
flowers, like some people, are late bloomers, but no matter how hard Holly tries, she still manages to sneeze away the fertilizer and
overwater the plants. Finally, Holly sees a way to grow flowers that plays to her strengths: shutting herself in her father's art studio,
she makes brilliant paper flowers that fill up the room. The ink-and-watercolor pictures are light and colorful, with, of course, a
profusion of flowers filling the pages. A particularly pleasing picture framed in berries and leaves features Holly trying to paint her
thumb green. Simply plotted and with a worthwhile message (though a bit overstated), the story will resonate with children who
may have problems standing out in a family or who haven't found the activity they shine at yet. - Ilene Cooper

From the San Diego Union-Tribune
"Holly Bloom's Garden" by Sarah Ashman and Nancy Parent, illustrated by San Diego native Lori Mitchell. No matter how hard
she tried, Holly could not grow a flower garden. She even tried painting her thumb green because her Mama said people who can
grow flowers have a green thumb. It didn't help. She tried fertilizer, but it made her sneeze and she blew it away. She tried special
tools, but the plants still wilted. She tried a watering can, but she oversoaked them. Everywhere she looked, people had pretty
flowers. Then, she comes up with a plan. One night while everyone is asleep, she tiptoes down the hall, into her father's art studio...
- Christine Raynes, Under the Covers

From the Bureau County Republican
Slightly older readers will relate to Holly Bloom's wish to do something as well as her mom and older siblings can. What does Holly
want? To grow her own garden. Alas, her family's flowers flourish, but Holly's seedlings simply won't grow. Not willing to give up,
Holly keeps trying - until she finally figures out how to have a perfect garden of her own. Gentle illustrations in colored pencil and
acrylic paint evoke Holly's struggle and celebrate her unique solution.(Watch for a chicken in Holly's garden, too!) Young readers
facing a difficult goal will be encouraged to think outside the box, just like Holly Bloom." - Paula Morrow

From Family Journal
Holly Bloom's Garden, full of vibrant illustrations, will inspire children to create their own gardens in their own way.  This is a
charming tale of a late bloomer who struggles to discover her talents.  It's perfect for budding young gardeners and artists or any
child exploring his or her own unique gifts. - Patricia and Chloe Muse

From Metro Parent Magazine
Perfect for the child struggling to find his or her own talent.

From The Associated Press
...a picture storybook for young readers about Holly's horticultural learning curve.

From the Sacramento Bee
A child's love of gardening begins with a partnership between youngster and adult. Eventually it becomes a relationship between
youngster and nature. Gardening presented as a fun experience is the best way to cement that relationship. The following children's
books are excellent avenues to hours of entertainment and a lifetime of knowledge.... Colorfully illustrated tale of young Holly,
cursed with a gardening black thumb. Desperate, she paints her thumb green, but her dahlias still droop. After repeated attempts to
keep plants alive, some advice from dad sets up a surprise and happy ending. - Dan Vierria

From Large Print Reviews.com
Holly Bloom has a problem. Everyone in her family has a green thumb, except for her. Her mother Iris is a skilled gardener under
whose hand beautiful flowers unfold. Her sister Rosie grows flowers that are famous the whole town around. Even her brother,
Bud, has a green thumb. Each in turn tries to help Holly plant and grow some flowers, but to no avail. Holly even takes the drastic
step of painting her thumb green, but even this does not make her flowers grow. Rather than growing depressed, or giving up,
Holly keeps trying. She waters, and fertilizes, and is careful to use the right tools, but nothing works. Still determined to succeed,
Holly keeps trying new methods of making her flowers grow. She never gives up and, inspired by her father, at last finds a solution
to her dilemma by creating her own unique flower garden out of tissue paper, crepe paper, pipe cleaners, paste, sparkles, and
Written by Sarah Ashman & Nancy Parent, and lushly illustrated by Lori Mitchell, Holly Bloom's Garden is an enchanting story
about creativity and perseverance. It is also a story that teaches children to embrace their differences and to build upon their own
talents. The text is printed in a large print font that will prove a boon to both young and old eyes. In addition, the story is brought
vividly to life via the cheerful color illustrations and black and white sketches that accompany the story. Holly Bloom's Garden is an
enjoyable story that is a perfect book for reading out loud, and it will enthrall young readers as they discover how Holly makes her
garden bloom! - Auggie Moore

From the Shooting Stars Newsletter of The Public Library of Cincinnati
Holly Bloom really wants to have a great garden. But she doesn't seem to have the knack, even after helpful hints from her green-
thumbed mom and siblings. Her daffodils don't grow and her daisies keep drooping no matter what fertilizer she uses! Then she
asks her father what to do, and is inspired by him to create a wonderful garden. How does she do it? Read this story to find out.
For kindergarten through grade two.

From Eclectic Homeschool Online Magazine
The dust-jacketed hardcover Holly Bloom's Garden is a perfectly pint-sized story about perseverance, ingenuity, and creativity set
in a modern home. Holly's mom and brother and sister can all grow flowers but, no matter what she tries, Holly's flowers are a
continual flop. Then, Holly takes a cue from her artist-dad, adds some sparkle of her own, and creates her own, one-of-a-kind
garden. What surprise awaits her family? Will this garden last? The artwork is exceptional and quite detailed in this colorful picture
book, and, therefore, the book could be used to teach your younger learners about plants, gardening, and flowers. - Deborah
Deggs Cariker

From Through the Through the Looking Glass.com
Holly comes from a family of green thumbs. Her mother, her sister, and her brother all have the touch; they have all grown beautiful
blooming gardens of flowers. For some reason though poor Holly cannot seem to make anything grow in her plot. Flowers she
plants soon wilt, droop, and give up. It is a very frustrating and distressing situation for the girl but she doesn’t give up.
Holly tries all sorts of things to try to make her flowers flourish, including painting her thumb green. She fertilizes, waters, tries using
the “right tools”, plants and plants some more. All to no avail. Then Holly has a burst of inspiration and she sets about creating a
garden that is all her own, the kind of the garden that is suited to Holly Bloom.
We all would like to have certain skills and gifts but sometimes that just doesn’t come naturally no matter how hard we try. Holly’s
inspired and unique approach to having a garden of her own shows us how we can use our creativity to attain our dreams, and also
how we sometimes need to gracefully accept that we cannot be good at everything. It is just a matter of finding our own unique,
individual, talents.
Beautifully illustrated with a simple text and a warm message, this picture book is a real treasure.  - Marya Jansen-Gruber

From MyShelf.com
Sometimes I am amazed by how many “you can do anything you set your mind to” books exist, when as adults we know that you
can’t really do anything you set your mind to. Some people are just better at some things. Holly Bloom’s Garden explores this
theme with a nice nod to reality. Holly really isn’t as good at gardening as the rest of her family -- but that doesn’t mean she can’t
use what she is good at and find her own success.
The text of the book is lively, despite the gardening theme. My 4-year-old daughter, who has zero interest in gardening, had to be
dragged to the reading room for this story, but once she heard it, she asked for it again and again. It definitely speaks to children
who sometimes feel a bit unsuccessful. And it’s a smooth read aloud without any of the accidental tongue twisters you sometimes
find in picture books.
The illustrations are detailed and lovely. Lori Mitchell has created a Holly who is appealing and totally real. In some ways, the look
lacks some of the flash of books by larger publishers, but it creates a warm and comforting place for young readers. - Jan Fields

From The Writer's Room.com
Helping children to learn perseverance is probably one of the hardest but most important lessons in their young lives.

Holly Bloom’s Garden is a delightful story of a young girl and her determination to have a flower bed.  Despite everything she tries,
including painting her thumb green, digging the “perfect patch”, using fertilizer and dragging heavy watering cans, her efforts
continue to fail. Walking through the beautiful and colorful garden her mother, sister and brother grew, she becomes saddened by
her lack of success.  Holly’s father, seeing her disappointment, comforts her and suggests that perhaps she just hasn’t found the
right tools...  That night, Holly triumphantly discovers the tools that give her the vibrant flower garden she has envisioned. Hollly
Bloom’s Garden is a wonderful book filled with beautiful illustrations, making it a great read and an ideal addition to a child’s
collection. - Skye Lindborg

From Saplings Magazine.com
Holly Bloom’s Garden shows children that they don’t have to try to be like everyone else and can do things the way that works
best for them. I think this is something that everyone tends to forget, and it isn’t an easy thing to teach. My daughter often forgets
this and needs a reminder now and again that there’s more than one way to cook a fish. I loved the illustrations. Lori Mitchell did
an excellent job bringing the vibrancy of a garden to the pages of the book. I would definitely recommend this book, especially if
your child is having a hard time thinking outside the box. - Nancy Cavanaugh, Editor

I liked the book Holly Bloom's Garden because Holly worked hard and never gave up. She found a solution and made paper
flowers. That was my favorite part in the book. I think it's good enough that you work hard, even if it does not look good. The
illustrations were pretty and I liked them a lot. I especially liked the picture of Holly's paper flower garden. - Caitlin Cavanaugh,
age 10

Saplings Magazine.com included a page of instructions on how to make some of the crafts flowers shown in Holly Bloom's
Garden.  See

From BookPleasures.com
Try as she might, Holly couldn’t make her garden grow. Though her family are green-fingered, with blooming successes, Holly’s
plants and flowers wilt and die and fail to thrive. Holly is not a girl to be discouraged, though, and though she’s disappointed, she
looks for other ways to succeed. Holly finds a way to create her own blooms, without a single seed needing to be sown. This story
of a very determined girl who won’t let the let-downs of life stand in her path is a sweet one, and will appeal to younger children of
about four to seven years old.
Lori Mitchell has illustrated Holly Bloom’s Garden with detail and colour, and I expect the book would be a favourite of little girls,
though it could be read by boys as well.   A pleasant book ... an enjoyable and well-presented story. - Andrea Wren

From Wiz Kids
This is an absolutely glorious picture book about a family of gardeners all of whom have a green thumb except for Holly Bloom, the
youngest child. She just can’t make her flowers blossom. How Holly learns how to blossom in her own way makes a wonderful
story for young children. - Rita Wisotsky
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