Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 3 to 8
- Grade: p to 2
- Reading age: 6 to 7
School's out, and Marky looks forward to summer, including helping his friend and neighbor, Mr. Tempkin, with his garden. But when Mr. Tempkin's plan to thwart the squirrels that have been raiding his birdfeeder goes awry, Marky learns how special a friendship can be.
About the authors
Cary Fagan is the author of eight previous novels and five books of short stories, including The Student, Great Adventures for the Faint of Heart, and A Bird's Eye. He has been nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Writers' Trust Fiction Award, the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction, and has won the Toronto Book Award and the Canadian Jewish Book Award for Fiction. He is also an acclaimed writer of books for children, having won the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, the IODE Jean Throop Book Award, a Mr. Christie Silver Medal, the Joan Betty Stuchner—Oy Vey!—Funniest Children's Book Award, and the Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People. Fagan's work has been translated into French, Italian, German, Dutch, Spanish, Catalan, Turkish, Russian, Polish, Chinese, Korean and Persian. He still lives in his hometown of Toronto.
Carles Arbat's greatest treasure as a child was his box of colored pencils. One day, he even colored the walls of his parents' dining room, which got him into a bit of trouble. He is a graduate of Olot's Art School in Graphic Design and the author of nine children's books. He lives in Barcelona.
"A young boy and his elderly neighbor bond during the summer months. When school is out, Marky enjoys helping Mr. Tempkin with his garden. While watering the flowers and pulling weeds Marky listens to Mr. Tempkin impart his philosophy on aging well: Walk every day to synagogue, enjoy the flowers and birds in the garden, and, most of all, value friendship. When the elder falls and gets hurt because he decides to climb a tree to hang a bird feeder, Marky is there to get help. Once Mr. Tempkin is back from the hospital, in a wheelchair with a sprained ankle, Marky is even more willing to be there for his friend; it's a mitzvah, after all, to wheel Mr. Tempkin to synagogue and do the work in the garden. By summer's end Mr. Tempkin's ankle is healed and the affinity between the two neighbors has blossomed into a very special relationship. Detailed, realistic paintings in bright, sunny, summer colors portray a largely white suburban community (although a final school-bus scene reflects a diverse group of kids). The fluid narrative arc extends main themes of friendship and the Jewish value of mitzvah: doing good through genuine caring. A gentle story with minimal intrigue and plenty of compassion highlights the beauty of intergenerational relationships."—Kirkus Reviews
"It's summer and young Marky enjoys helping his neighbor, Mr. Tempkin, take care of his garden. One day, while trying to move his bird feeder away from some pesky squirrels, the elderly gentleman falls out of a tree, resulting in a call to 911 and a trip to the hospital. During his neighbor's recovery, Marky helps by pushing his wheelchair-using friend to and from synagogue for services, watering his roses, and refilling his bird feeder using a safe, bucket-and-broomstick device. Fagan's story of intergenerational friendship emphasizes the shared interests of this pair, and, although Dad mentions that spending time with Mr. Tempkin is a mitzvah (good deed), and Mom declares his deeds make him a mensch (good person), it's also clear that Mr. Tempkin and Marky are birds of a feather. Arbat's richly hued, realistic illustrations highlight the summer flora and fauna present in Marky's neighborhood. Several species of birds appear in every spread and seem to follow Mr. Tempkin wherever he goes. A satisfying, if somewhat introspective, addition to the friendship shelf." — Kay Weisman
This is a delightful picture book that conveys Jewish — and universal — themes of the importance of intergenerational friendship and helping one’s neighbors. The illustrations are brightly colored and contain many details for children to notice and focus on as they listen to the story, or read it for themselves. It is instructive without being preachy and it has a happy ending.
Mr. Tempkin is Marky’s next-door neighbor and, in the summer, it is Marky’s job to water Mr. Tempkin’s beautiful flower garden. They enjoy each other’s company as Marky takes care of the flowers and Mr. Tempkin tends to his bird feeder, sharing his knowledge and appreciation of birds with his young friend. Marky is surprised that someone so “old” can do so many things by himself. One day Mr. Tempkin overestimates his ability to climb a tree to properly position his bird feeder. He falls out of the tree and must be taken to the hospital. Marky spends a long day anxiously waiting to see if his friend will be alright. Happily, Mr. Tempkin returns home with just a bandage on his sprained ankle and Marky continues to help him, with even more opportunities to assist such as pushing the wheelchair up the hill so Mr. Tempkin can continue to attend synagogue services every morning. By the end of the story, Marky and Mr. Tempkin have become good friends and Marky has learned much about independence, friendship, kindness, responsibility, and mitzvot.
This story is clearly written and easy to understand and the sophisticated concepts are not overly simplistic. Reader and listener alike will identify with the characters and appreciate the friendship between them despite their age difference.