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The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  423 ratings  ·  98 reviews
The inspirational story of George Washington Carver and his childhood secret garden is brought to life in this picture book biography by the author-illustrator team behind Muhammad Ali: A Champion Is BornThis nonfiction picture book is an excellent choice to share during homeschooling, in particular for children ages 4 to 6. It’s a fun way to learn to read and as a suppl ...more
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published January 14th 2020 by Katherine Tegen Books
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This book was AMAZING. Of course I’ve heard of George Washington Carver and I know a little bit about his legacy however I’m always amazed of how much you can learn from Children’s nonfiction books. They can be phenomenal. This book really made me learn a lot about his past and why he was so passionate about agriculture. I think that people always recognize his ability to utilize the peanut in so many different ways but I think that this book definitely provides much more insight to his life. Th ...more
Shaye Miller
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful picture book biography of George Washington Carver. It showcases his curiosity and love for nature from his earliest days after being born into slavery in 1864. He tended a secret garden and learned an incredible amount of knowledge from trial and error. He learned how to sew, make dyes, create medicine from plants and leaves. At the age of 12, he moved away from his childhood home and traveled through several states continuing to learn about art and agriculture. He was the f ...more
Linda Lipko
Feb 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
This lovely illustrated book is filled with a lot of wonderful text regarding the life of George Washington Carver. Born into slavery in Diamond Grove, Missouri, he was both father and motherless. When he was one year old, the 13th amendment outlawed slavery.

Still, that did not grant rights to those of color. Sickly, he spent his time by growing a garden. He developed a deep love and understanding of nature. He attended a colored school. He lived in a series of states, always seeking an educatio
Feb 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.5. Art is outstanding. Book would be a 5 star for me if more about Carver's faith were worked in. ...more
Jun 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Frank Morrison illustrates this book with beautiful oil paintings, but most (not all) of the people depicted look somber and unsmiling. This doesn't detract from the illustrations, I just wondered about his choice of expression. He also does a fantastic job of depicting the woods which young George love to visit, and in which he studied many types of plants. I loved that the author included this statement regarding George's "secret garden": "In his mind, the garden was a true gift from God, whom ...more
Sep 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Black History and Agriculturist requests
Recommended to June by:
I really love children's books that teach me something I don't know. I never knew that Congress designated a George Washington Carver Recognition Day!

Such an amazing man, born a slave, accepted to Highland College, turned away because of the color of his skin. First Black to graduate from Iowa Agricultural College with an masters.

"Regard Nature.
Revere Nature.
Respect Nature."
Pam  Page
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting story about Carver with beautiful illustrations. Timeline, bibliography, and further reading at the end.
This book included many things that I did not know about George Washington Carver. I highly recommend it for everyone. ( I can't believe that some people think that picture books are just for kids.) ...more
Edward Sullivan
A lushly illustrated, expressive, inspiring portrait of Carver.
GWC 4EVA! I first learned about him in 4th grade. Amazing. He would be so sad to hear how many people have peanut allergies these days.
A well researched picture book biography about George Washington Carver. Although it begins with his birth into slavery and continues with his evolution into a living folk hero, the bulk of the story focuses on his childhood passion for nature. To avoid being teased, Carver kept a secret garden in the woods where he learned and experimented on growing his beloved plants. His efforts led him to be known locally as a Plant Doctor and neighbors would bring their plants to his plant hospital. Morris ...more
I'll be honest, I love anything that Frank Morrison does. But this truly surpasses all his other work...

Beautiful, warm, lush illustrations that help illustrate the beautiful story of George Washington Carver evolving from a kidnapped enslaved person to a nationally respected Black agricultural expert. Wonderful information book that is sure to pull in readers starting around 2nd grade.

Side Note: As a former Ames, IA, resident (where the Iowa Agricultural College became Iowa State University), I
Raven Black
Mar 09, 2020 rated it liked it
While it is a lovely snapshot of one piece of Carver's life, I wish there was a little "more" to it. Not so much his life as a whole, but more about the actually growing and learning about plants. It is poetic with lyrical illustrations. Might be a hard recommendation, but worth the read. The timeline is an excellent addition. ...more
Aug 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Well done biography for elementary level readers.
Barretta shares Carver's life from childhood through retirement.
Highly detailed illustrations bring his story to life.
Kim Tyo-Dickerson
Beautiful picture book biography of George Washington Carver that I purchased for our Upper School Library to support our Grade 6 Scientists inquiry unit. The illustrations are stunning, magical in their depiction of the little Black boy in tattered clothes finding refuge in the flowers and fields surrounding the home where he grew up as a slave. George Washington Carver's story is so inspiring in an of itself, that the list of tragedies he overcame and the amazing list of accomplishments he non ...more
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
George Washington Carver grew up to be a famous botanist and inventor. In 1921, he spoke before Congress, talking about how the humble peanut could be used to make so many different products. This famous man’s connection with plants and the earth came from an early age in the form of his own secret garden. Born into slavery in 1864, he was kidnapped as an infant along with his mother. His mother was never found, but George was brought back to slavery. George and his brother grew up on the farm, ...more
Nov 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Biography of GWC, focussing mostly on his childhood. He apparently was a local "plant doctor" with a secret garden where he observed and recorded his plants throughout the seasons, becoming knowledgeable about what they needed so that neighbors would consult him about their ailing shrubs. But he had to move to get educated, since his town was too racist to let African Americans get educated (he was born before the Civil War, but a small child when it ended so he had no memories of being enslaved ...more
Ben Truong
Feb 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver is a children's picture book written by Gene Barretta and illustrated by Frank Morrison. George Washington Carver tended a secret garden of flowers before becoming known for his skill in agriculture.

Barretta's text is rather simplistic, straightforward, and informative. Barretta opens this sensitive biography on a moment of triumph as Carver overcomes the scorn of a roomful of white congressmen in 1921. Backmatter includes a timeline, bibliography, a
Jan 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
Author Gene Barretta and illustrator Frank Morrison have combined their talents to create as appealing biography of George Washington Carver from his life born a slave on the Carver farm, orphaned as an infant and emancipated a year later, was raised with his brother by the Carvers. He explored the wonders of nature, created a secret garden observing, questioning, experimenting, tending and learning about plants, sharing his knowledge and skills. At twelve he left the farm to seek more education ...more
Feb 02, 2021 rated it liked it
Continuing my 100-Picture-Books-Read Challenge with some non-fiction books as well including this beautifully illustrated one by author, Gene Barretta and illustrator, Frank Morrison. I remember learning about George Washington Carver in school but, as it so often happens in schools in the South, it was a very white-washed, and simplistic lesson of a SCIENTIST whose contributions to the world and American Farmers are STILL felt (and used).

While the timeline and bibliography are good resources, I
Laura Giessler
A good introductory biography of George Washington Carver. I learned some things--like the tragic story that he and his mother were kidnapped when he was a baby; he was brought back to the plantation, and his mother was never heard from again. Also that he chose a last name of Carver when he moved to Missouri to attend school (1876); and later (1885) added Washington as a middle name to distinguish himself from another George Carver. (Helpful timeline in the back matter!). I appreciate his cons ...more
May 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
What an amazing book! George Washington Carver is often discussed in lessons of Black History, but there are facts in this book that I did not know about, including why the Washington, is part of his name. This is a (young readers) age appropriate story of Carver's life that does not completely leave out the treatment he received from White Americans, even after the Emancipation Proclamation. I am humbled by the stories of Black Americans that are being told but often disappointed by the blatant ...more
Kausar Asra Saadat
when George Washington Carver was just a young child, he had a secret: a garden of his own. He protected roots through harsh winters, so plants could be reborn in the spring. He trimmed flowers, spread soil, studied life cycles. And it was in this very place that George’s love of nature sprouted into something so much more—his future. Gene Barretta’s moving words and Frank Morrison’s beautiful paintings tell the inspiring life and history of George Washington Carver, from a baby born into slaver ...more
Apr 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully written biography about George Washington Carver! My kids really enjoyed learning about him and the challenges he faced due to racism. While we read it as part of our science unit, they were delighted to find that it also related back to what we have studied in history. My 7-year-old was able to recognize that it took place after slavery was legally outlawed, yet before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, so segregation was still extremely common. Carver had his acceptance to Hig ...more
This artwork in this book is absolutely beautiful and what stands out most about this book. It also highlights an African American man that people may not have the whole story about and this book is certainly needed in any library, school, or personal collection.

This was very good timing for the publication as the "Black Lives Matter" movement was very prominent. It was however, published at a time when many other beautifully illustrated picture book biographies were released and may get lost i
A thoughtful, honest, and engaging story about George Washington Carver from his childhood through adulthood. While this book doesn't go super in depth into any one part of his life, the throughline of Carver's care and attention toward plants makes this a cool option for larger discussions of racism, environmental justice, and how our identities and environments intermingle and connect.

Themes: Nature, Environmental Justice, Race/Racism/Antiracism, Follow Your Heart, Community, STEM
Age range: El
I knew a number of things about George Washington Carver and I still learned from this title. That he grew up with a childless white family and later took their last name as his, that he was the first black man to graduate with a masters degree from the Iowa Agricultural College after being denied entrance into several colleges. Most interesting to me was his establishment of the Jesup Agricultural Wagon and traveled the countryside. teaching black farmers how’s to improve their farming skills. ...more
Sara Fajardo
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful and lovingly rendered portrayal of George Washington Carver using the secret garden he tended as a child as a window to his astounding accomplishments. It starts at a defining moment in his life— addressing congress, and then travels back to his days as a child and how he taught himself agriculture. Despite obstacles, Carver was unstoppable and shared his many gifts to the benefit of the greater community.
Carol  V
George Washington Carver was an incredible person. This story was good; however, I have read other biographical accountings of George Washington Carver's life that focused more on his education. That is what young picture book readers need. These illustrations are beautiful, especially, in Carver's secret gardens. More about his time exploring with the plants would inspire young to pursue agriculture. Book construction-wise, a glossy page would have made the secret garden shine. ...more
Aug 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Possible contender for Mock Caldecott awards. A beautifully illustrated book telling the story of George Washington Carver's life. From early on he was always interested in nature and science and daily attended to his own hidden garden growing and caring for many types of plants and flowers. As an adult, he became adept at growing peanuts and developing uses for them...over 300 different uses. What a wonderful way to learn about this extraordinary man and his life. ...more
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Gene Barretta is the author and illustrator of Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin and Neo Leo: The Ageless Ideas of Leonardo da Vinci. He is also author and illustrator of Dear Deer, which was a Notable Children’s Book in the Language Arts and listed on the Parenting Magazine Mom-Tested Books of the Year List. He holds a B.F.A. in Film Studies from New York University, and has w ...more

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