Anywhere Farm

A friend recently introduced me to Phyllis Root’s new book, ANYWHERE FARM (Candlewick, illustrated by G. Brian Karas). The farming/gardening side of me rejoiced to see another book of the “plant a seed” variety, and, from the very first page, the writer side of me happily absorbed Ms. Root’s cheerful, rhyming text.

What I like about this one is that Root manages to impart a lot of information, but does so in such a warm, upbeat way that kids won’t realize they’re being schooled. Her point is that anybody can grow a garden anywhere, even in an inner-city environment. And then she shows readers how easy it is, laying it all out in an accessible way. How could readers help but be inspired to try a small-scale planting of their own?

The details Root chooses make the text shine. From an early page:

“Fat seed or skinny seed,/pointy or round,/tenderly tuck it/down into the ground.

“Then you watch and you wait./You water. You weed./Your seed will sprout out/at its own seedy speed.”

Seedy speed. I love that. And even though she changes up the rhythm pattern from time to time, she’s go GOOD at it that you never miss a beat.

The book is broken into sections that work like chapters to move readers between topics. Following the “Where can you plant your anywhere farm?” we see this spread:

She gives kids examples of what they might grow, including:

“Beets and zucchini,/oregano, beans,/jicama, broccoli,/radishes, greens.”

I liked this page, too:

Eventually, the small efforts the book’s children make spread to others, until we see that it’s all led to a community garden and the beginnings of a farmer’s market.

Karas’ soft illustrations are lively, yet cozy, large enough for group reading, but detailed enough to make this an excellent lap read, too.

This one’s staying in my permanent collection. I’ll love sharing it with my grands when they’re ready to learn about gardening…but I’ll be hoping they don’t want to start with jicama.



Jill Esbaum

Jill Esbaum has been picture book crazy since her 3 kids were little, and especially so after her first was published in 2004 (Stink Soup). Recent titles: Stinkbird Has a Superpower, Jack Knight's Brave Flight, Where'd My Jo Go?, Frog Boots, How to Grow a Dinosaur, Frankenbunny, If a T. Rex Crashes Your Birthday Party, Elwood Bigfoot– Wanted: Birdie Friends!, Teeny Tiny Toady, I Am Cow, Hear Me Moo!, and more. Coming in 2024: Parrotfish Has a Superpower (a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection) and Bird Girl: Gene Stratton-Porter Shares Her Love of Nature with the World (another JLG Gold Standard Selection). She's also the author of many nonfiction books for young readers, as well as an early graphic reader series, Thunder & Cluck. Learn more at


  1. I haven’t stopped by this blog in a very long time. So glad I did. I love Phyllis Root and this looks like an amazing book. I think the title is so clever! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Phyllis Root has been one of my favorite PB authors since discovering Contrary Bear when our son was little. And I love Brian Karas’s work too. This looks wonderful–can’t wait to check it out!

  3. This looks adorable. Putting it on my list! Congrats Phyllis!

  4. Love it, love it, love it!! Going to get out my rain boots and plant something flowery.

  5. I read Scrawny Cat last week and immediately requested a number of her books from the library. I will definitely add this one to the list too. The illustrations look beautiful too. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Yes, I adore Phyllis Root’s writing. Ty for sharing this gem.

  7. Wow. This looks like a great book! Thanks so much for sharing.

  8. What a rhythm! This is delightful in every way!

  9. I love the up beat tone of this sweet book that encourages farming! Thanks for sharing!

  10. This looks so sweet, Jill! I can see this inspiring new gardeners, young and old.

  11. Simply put, I love Phyllis Root!

  12. Ok, have to admit that I had to look up what the heck a jicama is. So already I’ve learned something from this wonderful book! I love Phyllis Root’s way with a rhyming text. Looking forward to reading this one!

  13. Kim Pfennigwerth

    Love your review of this book! Can’t wait to read it!

  14. I love the writing, illustrations and theme for this book. I’m a gardener and have followed G. Brian Karas’ career since he lived in the Phoenix area.

    Phyllis Root, what an author also. Her last name goes well with the subject.

  15. Beautiful! Can’t wait to see it!

    • Coming at it from the art side, you’ll likely appreciate it in a way entirely different from mine. One reason I love picture books so much! Layers, layers, layers.

  16. Thank you! I want to read it.

    BTW, I just re-read your book, Stanza. I just love that book. So good with the rhymes and plot. 🙂

  17. Charming! What a beautiful way to build a simple concept into a story with a deep theme.

  18. I didn’t know Phyllis Root had a new book out…thanks for sharing this, Jill! I love her books!! I’m learning to garden and have a small one planted, so this is right up my alley. P.S. I love jicama, too. 🙂

    • I might have missed it, too, if somebody hadn’t brought it to my attention. She’s amazing, that’s for sure. (You love jicama? Well, I guess somebody has to.) 😉

  19. What a great book and post. Love Phyllis Root. Thanks, Jill!

  20. Ha! Now I need to research jicama… I want this book!

  21. C’mon over, I’ll show it to you! 🙂

  22. A couple of my story time favorites by Phyllis Root are Rattletrap Car and Squeak!Said the Bed. Kids love helping with the sounds. Haven’t seen this new one, but I’ve got it on hold.

    If you had bland jicama, Jill, someone did you wrong. If it’s good, fresh jicama, it should be icy white and crunchy with a sweet, somewhat nutty flavor–somewhere between an apple and a carrot. Unless, of course, like some folks with cilantro, your tastebuds are jicama happy. ?

  23. This book would be so much fun to read to a preschool class! And then, of course, we’d plant seeds!

  24. Looks like a great book.
    I, too, like the “seedy speed” line.

  25. So glad to know about this book. When I lived in the Twin Cities, Phyllis gave a Saturday workshop for $50 ( if you can believe it). We brought a work-in-progress and she spent time with each of us, cutting and taping. Her insightful questions showed me so much about what I was and wasn’t doing. An incredible opportunity with an incredible author.

  26. Ahhhhh, looks (and sounds) so wonderful! Thanks, Jill!

  27. You’re very welcome, Jen!

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