The Ugly Vegetables
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Ugly Vegetables

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  255 ratings  ·  45 reviews
It's easy to appreciate a garden exploding with colorful flowers and fragrances, but what do you do with a patch of ugly vegetables? Author/illustrator Grace Lin recalls such a garden in this charming and eloquent story.

The neighbors' gardens look so much prettier and so much more inviting to the young gardener than the garden of "black-purple-green vines, fuzzy wrinkled l...more
Paperback, 32 pages
Published July 1st 2001 by Charlesbridge (first published 1999)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Ugly Vegetables, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Ugly Vegetables

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 433)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Lisa Vegan
Jul 10, 2010 Lisa Vegan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who want vegetables praised; gardeners; for cross cultural understanding
I read this author-illustrator’s Dim Sum for Everyone! and I liked it but was not wowed by either the illustrations or story.

I liked this book, her first book, much better.

For my entire life I’ve wanted a vegetable and herb garden. Flowers have never done it for me as much as does an edible garden.

So, this story, told by a little girl (thinly veiled as it’s obviously about the author) whose mother grows Chinese vegetables instead of flowers, when all the neighbors grow pretty flowers, had me on...more
Harold Underdown
This is Grace Lin's first published book. I acquired it soon after I arrived at Charlesbridge, having met Grace when she was still a student at RISD. It's a simple story with folktale undercurrents about a Chinese-American family that grows vegetables--ugly ones, in the opinion of the girl narrator--while the neighbors grow flowers. But one day, they harvest the vegetables, and then the magic happens...
Crystal Jackson
This is a great book! I used this book in a lesson to teach children the concept of gardening and planting. Children will learn where fruit and vegetables that they come from.
This is a fun story that celebrates vegetable gardening, and introduces children to potentially unfamiliar Chinese veggies and the proper Chinese names of each of them. This book made me hungry for a vegetable stir-fry!

Veg*n parents note: While the story itself is a very positive introduction to the world of plant foods, it includes a recipe for the soup prepared in the story, which includes both chicken and chicken broth. These could easily be replaced with vegetable broth and either tofu or so...more
One of my colleagues has chosen to do a 'food' year with her primary students. They will study gardens, growing in the wild, different cultures, cooking, and any other topic connected to food. We share many picture books and I count it as a pleasure whenever I can find a book about food that she doesn't know. I learn a lot from her about books, but also about teaching the youngest students in our school. Recently she shared this book with me, and I am excited to review it. It tells about a young...more
Hana Sm.
I love this book because it could show children how to have pride in their family traditions & not be embarrassed. This is the story of a Chinese girl who lives in a neighborhood where everyone seems to be planting a garden. As she helps her mom plant their garden, she notices that everyone else in the neighborhood is planting flowers, but her mom is planting vegetables. She complains but her mom tells her that, "These are better than flowers." The girl is OK with this until...she notices th...more
One hundred years ago, when I was in middle school, I befriended a girl who had recently moved to the U.S. with her family from Greece.

She invited me to her birthday party, which included roughly 200 people, a pit in the backyard where someone was roasting a lamb, and adults going up onto the roof to shout toasts (maybe to the birthday girl, maybe not) in Greek.

My friend took me roughly by the arm and made me sit with her in her bedroom while she cried angry tears over her weird Greek relatives...more
1.This story gives a different prespective on gardening,and becomes a great introduction to Asian vegetables. It also offers an ugly Vegetables soup recipe.
2.This story offers multicultural look on Asian gardening triditions.
3.In this story community is celebrated, and the joy of gardening is share by all.

Extended Activity

There are many Asian makets in my community,and I have access to many of the asia triditions and people. I would like to get the vegetables that were mentioned in the story suc...more
I really enjoyed this book because it was about a girl and her mother planting a garden and the little girl kept comparing her garden to her neighbors. She did not like her own garden and felt that her neighbors gardens were better. In the end when the little girl saw what her garden produced she was proud of her garden.
Sabrina Henry
The Ugly Vegetables story is about a little Asian girl living with her mom. They planted vegetable sin their garden, while their neighbors all had flowers. The little girl was very curious about the difference and was a bit perturbed. Her mom explained to her and they cooked soup from their Chinese vegetables. Some of the neighbors smelled it and joined them for soup.
This book can be used to teach children about character, acceptance, different cultures, and names of Chinese vegetables. The il...more
The Ugly Vegetables is a book about appreciating culture and diversity. It is a story of a young girl and mother who plant a garden. Throughout the different stages in the garden the young girl is questioning her mother and ashamed of the type of garden they are planting and wishing it looked more like their neighbor's garden. The young girl is from an Asian culture (and right now the culture is drawing a blank) and her neighbor's garden is the "American" version of what a garden looks like.

I li

Megan MacDonald
Acceptance and sharing is a great life skill to teach young children. In this story, a Chinese little girl is planting a garden with her mom. Soon, she notices that her garden is different from the rest of the neighborhood and she begins to ask her mother why they cannot grow flowers instead of vegetables. In the end, the whole neighborhood envies their Chinese garden and the wonderful soup they made with the vegetables. This is a great story about unity and shows how different cultures can join...more
Ashley Correll
Lin and her mother plant seeds in the spring. Lin waits expectantly for the plants to start growing, but is disappointed when her plants don't have lovely flowers like the neighbors' gardens. Her mother tells her to wait for something better than flowers. Finally teh vegetables start to grow, but they are so ugly. Lin is very sad until one day her mother harvests the vegetables and makes a soup. Then all the neighbors come to her house for the delicious soup. Lin is Chinese and illustrations of...more
Tim Vandenberg
Grace Lin's debut book provides a gorgeous visual precursor of her stunning art to be showcased 10 years later in her Newbery Honor winning novel, "Where the Mountain Meets the Moon" (which also is on the Common Core State Standards Exemplar Text list).

In "Ugly Vegetables", Ms. Lin expresses a strong sense for the Joy of Color and a cross-cultural take on a young child's Delight in Nature (through yummy, unfamiliar Chinese vegetables).

Recommended, especially as part of an author study while prep...more
Erica - Bonner Springs Library
In Year of the Dog by Grace Lin, she refers to the picture book "The Ugly Vegetables" she created in school for a book contest. On Grace's website she shows a photo of the original book she created in school and this book. I'm curious about the similarities but also love the fact that she took an idea she had as a child and actually wrote the book as an adult.
In Year of the Dog by Grace Lin, she refers to the picture book "The Ugly Vegetables" she created in school for a book contest. On Grace's website she shows a photo of the original book she created in school and this book. I'm curious about the similarities but also love the fact that she took an idea she had as a child and actually wrote the book as an adult.
Danie P.
Could be used for a preschool storytime or a after school gardening activity. A little girl wants to know why her mommy isn't planting flowers like the rest of the neighbors. Mom responds by telling her that they are planting a chinese vegetable garden. When the neighbors smell the delicious vegetables cooking in a soup they come over with their beautiful flowers to trade for the delicious soup. There is a glossary of the chinese vegetables in the back of the book as well as a recipe for the sou...more
Read this to my first graders this week as a part of our study of plants in science class. In addition to introducing various types of edible and inedible plants (our purpose) it also has a nice multi-cultural theme. The Chinese-American protagonist is at first embarrassed about the weird vegetables grown in her family's garden when their neighbors are growing flowers. Then her mother make a delicious meal from their garden and all their neighbors want to learn to grow the Chinese vegetables too...more
I discovered this picture book accidentally as I was looking for some children's titles about eating vegetables. It is a sweet story with a subtle message about appreciating ones cultural heritage (and the food that comes with it) and an exuberant celebration of sharing and community. I will definitely try to use it in an upcoming children's program... as long as I can figure out how to correctly pronounce the names of the Chinese vegetables while reading aloud.
Alexis Levine
This book is a great multi-culture story book. I would read this book to k-3rd graders either before or after a science lesson. Some god discussions that could be brought to young children while reading this book would be the different types of plants and which types of plants are edible. How do they grow? Which plants grow quicker? The story name is very catchy for young children because categorizing vegetables as "ugly" is something a lot of children do.
A favorite in our house. A girl works on her garden with her mom, unhappy that they are growing "ugly" Chinese plants while the neighbors are growing beautiful flowers. But when their "ugly" plants mature into vegetables, the girl's mother makes them into a soup that brings the whole neighborhood to their door. Great story, well told, nicely illustrated.
Katie Tyring
Judging by the worn copy I picked up from the library, I'd say it's safe to assume this book is well-loved by children. It gives a multicultural perspective on vegetables. Though traditional Chinese vegetables aren't as pretty as flowers in the garden, it turns out they're delicious. I love the ending, as well as the recipe included in the last pages.
Sep 22, 2007 Cheryl rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 2-3rd graders
Shelves: read-a-loud-k-2
This is a story of friendship and gardening with a multi-cultural bent. You will learn how to pronounce the names of some Chinese vegetables and there's even a recipe for soup!
This book will make you hungry for soup! The third graders I read this story to wanted to plant and eat sho-huang-gua.
I love this book. I have been a fan of Grace Lin's books since having my own children and found this book particularly meaniful for me, since my mom grew, "ugly vegetables" too when I was a kid. It's been a nice way to try to help my kids understand the Taiwanese side of their heritage.
A feel good story about a girl who's helping her mother plant for their garden...except instead of beautiful flowers like the rest of the neighborhood is growing, they are growing ugly vegetables and the girl can't help but be disappointed -- at least until her mother shows her otherwise.
Tanya W
Great book... I wish the vegetables were names I could recognize and purchase to make the soup, but I don't think I had heard of any of them.

I liked the glossary at the back with help pronouncing some of the Chinese words.
preschool age. girl and her mom plant their garden which differs from their neighbors pretty flower gardens because it contains "ugly" chinese vegetables. ultimately, the whole neighborhood shares the bounty both ways.

A little girl thinks her mother's garden is the ugliest in the neighborhood until she discovers that flowers might look and smell pretty but Chinese vegetable soup smells best of all. Includes a recipe
My kids and I love this story. It's also great because it takes place in Somerville, although it's not obvious from the story. It's a really unforced story about sharing cultural differences.
Kelly Triplett
Ugly Vegetables would be an acceptable book to enhance a discussion/lesson about cultural differences. It would also be a good choice when discussing vegetable gardens and/or "community".
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 14 15 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Auntie Yang's Great Soybean Picnic
  • Bee-bim Bop!
  • UnBEElievables: Honeybee Poems and Paintings
  • Apple Pie Fourth of July
  • Basketball Belles: How Two Teams and One Scrappy Player Put Women's Hoops on the Map
  • Ruby's Wish
  • My Garden
  • Yucky Worms
  • Rah, Rah, Radishes!: A Vegetable Chant
  • Phoebe and Digger
  • Looking Like Me
  • All the Things I Love About You
  • Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa
  • Jazz on a Saturday Night
  • King Arthur's Very Great Grandson
  • Children Just Like Me
  • A New Year's Reunion: A Chinese Story
  • My Name Is Sangoel
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon The Year of the Dog Starry River of the Sky The Year of the Rat Dumpling Days

Share This Book