Grandma's Gardens

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
Grandma's Gardens Book Poster Image
Gardens hold sweet memories in gentle grandma story.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Lots of conversational information about gardens, flowers, and fruits and pictures that show plants, nature, and creatures (animals, birds) that live in gardens. 

Positive Messages

Gardens are places for celebration. Gardens help teach responsibility. Gardens are places of discovery. Gardens are places for learning. Gardens are homes to creatures large and small. Gardens give us food. Gardens are where we can create beauty. Gardens are places to share stories. Gardens help us stay strong. Gardens are place to create memories. Gardens connect us across generations. Gardens are places to remember. Statement on the back cover: Gardens are places where love grows.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Every character models love of nature and warm positive connection with loved ones: Dorothy, Hillary, Chelsea, and Chelsea's two little girls. 

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Grandma's Gardens, by Hillary Clinton and daughter Chelsea Clinton, is a warm recollection -- in both their voices -- of Chelsea's grandmother/Hillary's mom and her love of public and private gardens, at home and in other states and countries. Colorful spreads show the three generations enjoying and working in different gardens and finding deeper meaning them. In a later spread, Chelsea's kids are in the garden with their grandma, Hillary. The message is that gardens have brought them all together and opened their eyes to nature and animals, taught them responsibility, provided places of peace and celebration, and helped them stay strong. The book is available in a Spanish edition, titled Los jardines de la abuela.

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What's the story?

GRANDMA'S GARDENS starts with a two-page spread showing a mom, her little blond daughter, and Grandma Dorothy, with a description (in orange type) and her love of Grandma's love of gardens. Turn the page and the little girl says (in blue type), "I remember dancing across the lawn with sparklers in each hand." On the opposite page is the mom, who says (in green type), "I remember cutting up the tomatoes we'd just picked for our Fourth of July lunch." Below that is a statement (in orange type): "Gardens are places for celebration." It takes the reader a minute to grasp that the little girl is author Chelsea and the mom is author Hillary. And the pattern of alternating, color-coded memories and broad statements about gardens continues throughout the book as Chelsea grows up and Grandma's hair gets grayer. By the end, two little girls are playing with their grandma, who readers can figure out is Hillary, and that the girls belong to Chelsea, but no names are ever used besides Dorothy's. The final two statements are "Gardens connect us across generations" and "Gardens are places to remember." The final spread asks the reader, "What do you share with the people you love?"

Is it any good?

This warm, gentle meditation on gardens and shared memories is a sweet book with appealing art that celebrates relationships and nature. However, it's a little confusing at first to figure out who's who, who's speaking, and whose voice is in which color-coded type. This will all be easier for an adult to decipher, making Grandma's Gardens an especially good choice for read-aloud. But the positive messages about gardens are easy to understand and contemplate, and are good jumping off points for discussion and provoking the reader's own memories of good times spent loved ones.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the different ways the family enjoys being in the garden in Grandma's Gardens. Do you like gardens? Do you ever help with gardening? What's fun about it? 

  • What do you do like to do with your grandma or grandpa? What special places do you share with them?

  • The authors talk about their memories of Grandma Dorothy. What's a memory you have of your grandparent? Where were you and what happened? Try drawing a picture of that memory. 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love grandparent stories and picture books

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