May Day Greetings

Hello and happy May, dear friends!

In honor of May Day, I wanted to share a lovely gift from a dear friend and fan of Mr. Dog. Artist Katie Daisy gave me this beautiful little book for my birthday earlier this year. I was charmed and surprised to learn of yet another book by Mr. Dog’s author, Albert Bigelow Paine: A Little Garden Calendar.

A Little Garden Calendar, by Albert Bigelow Paine, 1905

A Little Garden Calendar, by Albert Bigelow Paine, 1905

I promise, this is not another crazy April Fool’s joke. The incredibly prolific Paine published this gardening manual for children in 1905. In it, he expertly instructs young readers in the art of gardening and observation of the natural world. In his words, he

has tried to tell in simple language a few of the wonders of plant life, and to set down certain easy methods of observation, including planting, tending, and gathering the harvests, from month to month, throughout the year. Along with this it has been [my] aim to call attention to the more curious characteristics of certain plants—the really human instincts and habits of some, the family relations of others, the dependence of many upon mankind, animals, and insects, and the struggle for existence of all.

But to make this book even more remarkable, Paine presents this instruction in the form of a sweet fictional story that follows two young children, Davy and Prue, as they learn throughout the year with the help of their friend, “The Chief Gardener.” Again, in Paine’s words:

Simple botany plays a part in the little narrative, which forms a continuous story from chapter to chapter, interwoven with a number of briefer stories—traditions, fairy tales, and the like, all relating to plant life and origin. These are presented by way of entertainment—to illuminate fact with fancy—to follow, as it were, the path of knowledge through the garden of imagination.

The more I learn about old Albert, the more I love him. This seemed a lovely thing to share with you all on this first day of May. I hope you enjoy the photos below. You can read the book online, or even download a free copy for your iPad or Kindle from

Wishing you a brilliant May!

Creative Director, That's So Enterprises

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  • Betsy, it looks like a wonderful book. Are you taking on another project? if so, I’m interested . . . My grandson has sprouted a new interest in gardening, a wonderful relief from computer games.

    All best,<br /> Suzanne
    • Suzanne
  • I love your speculations, Sally! Especially to think that Burnett might have been inspired by it. It’s such a remarkable book—and seems to me evidence of Paine’s respect for the intelligence and capabilities of young children (something that comes through in the Hollow Tree stories, too).

    • Betsy Cordes
  • Betsy, Sorry to be weighing so late! But reading your account here of Mr. Paine’s lovely garden book, I can’t help wondering if 1) Frances Hodgson Burnett ever saw it and was influenced by it, as she put out "The Secret Garden" in 1909 — or 2) if he were part of some world-wide (or European/American) movement educationally at that time to have children garden and learn more about the earth? However it happened, and maybe neither thing influenced him anyway, it’s wonderful that Paine put out this charming book — thanks for sharing! Best wishes, Sally Buffington

    • sally buffington
  • Hi, Suzanne. Well, I’ve definitely been fantasizing about bringing this gem back to life. Can’t promise anything super soon, but it’s great to know there’s interest out there. Thanks for letting me know!

    • Betsy Cordes