Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

EconKids Home New Picture Books in 2010 (First Word J-P) Lily's Victory Garden / by Helen L. Wilbur, illustrated by Robert Gantt Steele

Lily's Victory Garden / by Helen L. Wilbur, illustrated by Robert Gantt Steele


Lily's Victory Garden (Tales of Young Americans Series)
Author: Helen L. Wilbur
Illustrator:  Robert Gantt Steele
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
ISBN: 978-1-58536-450-3
Year: 2010

Concepts: natural resources, human resources, allocation, distribution, scarcity, economics of conflict

 Although Lily lived far away from the battles of World War II and was too young to work in the factories at home, she still felt the impact of the war everyday and did as much as she could to serve on the home front.  Lily and her brother regularly collected tin cans, scrap metal, and cans of grease from around the neighborhood to contribute to the war effort. She had also gotten used to living with shortages and standing in long lines for rationed goods.

When Lily heard that the government was encouraging citizens to contribute to the production of fruits and vegetables by growing “Victory Gardens,” she tried to enter the local lottery for a small land plot. When told that she was too young, Lily decided that she would ask the Bishops, the couple with the largest house and yard in town, if she could use a small section of their land.  Little did she realize the extent to which her actions stirred up not only the earth in the garden but also the emotions of the Bishops, who had been grieving the loss of their son in the war.

This touching book can help younger children understand the very personal repercussions of war, ranging from the loss of family members to widespread scarcities of basic consumption goods. Vibrant paintings and an informative author’s note add to the book’s message about the importance of community action and support during times of need.

Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children 

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