Figs and Pigs: Two Picture Books about the Tasty Things That Grow on Trees

BookendsRosario's Fig TreeCindy: Our summer fun blog series is wrapping up even though we are not ready, but harvest season is right around the corner along with the start of school. (Some of you started a week or more ago . . . ACK!) I have read Rosario’s Fig Tree (2015) a number of times since receiving it earlier in the year. Charis Wahl tells a tender story of a young girl who watches her elderly neighbor who prepares his garden each spring, knowing, as if magic, just when to plant the first seeds. This year, he brings a potted fig tree from the house and plants it in the garden. He explains to the girl:

“At home we have fig trees everywhere. Here it’s too cold for figs. But we’ll see.”

The fig tree does well in the garden and Rosario shares juicy and sweet purple figs with his friends, including the neighbor girl who helps him in his garden. One day Rosario does something really strange after he puts the rest of his garden to bed for the winter. He digs a hole and bends the tree down until it lays in the hole! The young girl’s grief is palpable and she worries for Rosario. As winter comes and the yard fills with snow she worries about the tree: Do dead things feel lonely? Gardeners will guess the happy ending, but young children will be surprised when there are figs again the next year. Luc Melanson’s garden-hued illustrations are perfect for this intergenerational friendship story. Add this one to your seasons units. I hope that poet Naomi Shihab Nye, who draws on a family love of fig trees in her writing, has seen this book. Me? I’m trying to grow a lime tree in Michigan. I don’t bury it, but I did carry the pot inside last winter. I’m hoping for fruit next summer. I’m no magician, but it is growing.

Lynn: Figs???? What? I thought we were talking about PIGS here! The book I am supposed to be reviewing is Under a Pig Tree: a History of the Noble Fruit (2015) by Margie Palatini. Oh! Now I see the little note on the opening page from publisher and executive editor Hamilton A. Cochon, mentioning the “eensy-teensy boo-boos” in the book. Ha ha! How could  I have been so confused? Silly me—how could I have thought this was right:

pig treeNothing is better than a pig right
off the tree. Look for the ones on low
branches. They droop a bit but feel nice
and soft, and are not mushy.

Well, to be fair, illustrator Chuck Groenink DOES illustrate all these facts with hilarious pictures of pigs. Hmm, now I see all these indignant comments from the author scrawled all over the pages. And she does seem to have lost it completely on the last few recipe pages and the end paper, writing “FIGS not PIGS!” over and over. Well, really, it’s an understandable mistake isn’t it? Isn’t it?

I might be hamming it up just a bit, but Henry of our focus group and I LOVED this fun and silly book! Give it to fans of Chester and listen for the giggles to start. Oh “fig-et” about it—just give it to any kid and listen for the giggles.



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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