“A simple, undesired gift leads to life-changing lessons about the satisfaction of working to accomplish goals and the fulfillment of being in nature.”
When grandma shows up to her granddaughter’s birthday not with an item on the wishlist—like a robot dog or a phone—but instead with a lemon tree, her granddaughter does her best to graciously accept the gift rather than let it float away with her birthday balloons. But like a wise master with an ambitious student, there’s more to sleepy grandma and her seemingly simple gift than originally expected. For as the granddaughter is dutiful in tending to the tree for a year—protecting it from snail invaders and keeping it warm—she begins to experience the satisfaction that comes from responsibility and persistence. And when her efforts are rewarded with a bountiful lemon harvest, grandma is back on hand to help her turn those lemons into money in the girl’s pocket so she can go buy all those gadgets herself. Except by the time she’s at the store, her year of tending to the tree has developed in her a refined love of nature, and readers will be pleasantly surprised by her purchase decisions, which bring together her community in a lovely neighborhood garden. Rocha’s thoughtful illustrations augment Deenihan’s beautiful debut text—attentive readers will note that even the young girl’s friends, who themselves received the tech items on the wishlist, abandon their gadgets for the satisfaction of connecting with nature and community in the garden. Urban dwellers will also appreciate Rocha’s accurate depictions of details of city living, like the young girl’s need to protect the tree from a malfunctioning hydrant.
“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” In this imaginative take on that popular saying, a child is surprised to receive a lemon tree from Grandma for her birthday. After all, she DID ask for a new gadget! But when she follows the narrator’s careful—and funny—instructions, she discovers that the tree might be exactly what she wanted after all.
This book is totally adorable! It’s got lovely manners, entrepreneurship, and family all wrapped up in one spunky package just right for all ages. The illustrations are bright and punchy and feature a slew of diverse characters (with diverse interests—check out what’s going on in the windows) which is fun and adds another layer to the story.
The illustrations and story are very clever, both in describing what not to do when your Grandma gives you an undesired gift, and in showing what good can come from being gracious in receiving an unexpected gift and mixing in a little ingenuity and hard work.
Jamie L. B. Deenihan is a teacher and member of SCBWI and the 12 x 12 Picture Book Challenge. Her first picture book was When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree. She lives in Suffield, CT, with her family. Visit her online at jamiedeenihan.com and on Twitter @jlbdeenihan.
Lorraine Rocha studied illustration and animation and worked at Lucasfilm’s VFX and animation studio Industrial Light & Magic, contributing to such films as Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Ironman. She is the illustrator of Zebra on the Go by Jill Nogales. Lorraine lives with her family in San Leandro, CA.