When I was offered my own plot at the local urban community garden, I thought it would be fun to invite other families to learn to grow food together. As an environmental educator, I knew that for toddlers and preschoolers, digging in the dirt and growing plants for food could plant seeds for a life-long love of exploring the wonder of nature, hands-on science inquiry, environmental stewardship and joy in healthy eating. 

As we gardened, I noticed what questions children and their parents had, and how we found the answers together. I wrote the picture book How to Say Hello to A Worm: A First Guide to Outside to inspire more kids and their parents to get their hands dirty. 

Here I am planting peas with the Early Birds’ Garden Club

How to Say Hello to a Worm: A First Guide to Outside is available to order from your favorite local independent bookshop.


Pulling a Print



When I was little, I thought that the best pages of any coloring book were the blank endpapers. There, I could draw whatever stories I dreamed up. When I got bigger, I studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The woodcut printmaking I studied there drives my illustration style.

After earning my Master’s in Environmental Science and Science Teaching at Antioch New England Graduate School, I taught science in public schools for several years. I am writing and illustrating books on science inquiry, nature, how children can get involved in citizen science, and picture book biographies of activists and scientists. Libray Parade Crafts Workshop LeaderI also lead workshops making masks and banners for parades with Wonderland Spectacle Company, I lead the Early Birds’ Garden Club for pre-schoolers at the community garden, and lots of other stuff. I live with my husband and two children, close enough to the subway to get around Boston, but also close enough to a giant waterfall to visit often for inspiration.

And my heart still skips a beat when I see a blank page for drawing on.


Sign up here to see what’s coming up next: Kari Percival Words and Pictures News

Teresa Kietlinski at Bookmark Literary represents my work in children’s books. Editors and art directors can contact Teresa at: teresa(at)bookmarkliterary.com 

For other creative collaborations, contact me at karipercival(at)hotmail.com
I’d be delighted to hear from you.
In the mean time, follow me on Instagram @karipercival
and sign up for news updates here


 “Earliest readers will love this deep dive (sometimes literally!) into gardening, growing, and learning.” School Library Journal, 31 Days, 31 Lists: 2022 Science and Nature Books for Kids

”A great guide to growing young gardeners!” 4/2022 Kirkus Review 

“Once you read this book you will get your hands dirty” 4/2022 Shameer Reads: The Reading and Writing Teacher

“Wonder and delight are in joyful evidence,” 2/2022  Boston Globe Arts New England Literary News

”Sparkling debut” 12/2021 Publishers Weekly Children’s Bookshelf starred review 

“A gorgeous guide to exploring the garden in a respectful and gentle way.” 3/2022, Let’s Talk Picture Books

2/2022 Publishers Weekly New and Noteworthy Kids’ and YA Books: February 2022

4/2022 Common Thread Antioch University News

3/2022 Pragmatic Mom: Picture Books on Growing a Garden

11/2022 Sun Journal Book Review 


4/2023 Cyrisse Jaffee, Children’s Book Feature: How to Say Hello to Local Author-Illustrator Kari Percival,The Arts Fuse, Boston.

2/2023 Colette Lauture, “If you’re gonna learn to garden, you need to know how to say hello to a worm.” Neighborhood View, Urban Media Arts, Malden.

6/2022 Victoria K. Chapman, KidLit Connection: Getting to Know Author-Illustrator, Kari Percival

1/2022 Mack Keating, Malden Author Releases Kids’ Book, The Blue and Gold.



Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection: SAFE CROSSING, Chronicle Books, coming 2025. 

2023 Ezra Jack Keats Award for Writer 

Notable Children’s Books, 2023, Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)

2023 Blue Ribbon Selection, Dolly Parton Imagination Library

2024 Kentucky Blue Grass Award Nominee, Preschool, Kentucky Association of School Librarians

School Library Journal 2022 Science and Nature Books for Kids, 31 Days, 31 Lists, Betsy Bird, 12/2022

Favorite Picture Books of 2022, Let’s Talk Picture Books: Children’s Book Design and Illustration, 12/2022

TALK Award, 2023 CLEL Bell Picture Book Awards for Early Literacy, 12/2022

ALCS Notable Children’s Book Discussions, Nov. 2022

2020 SCBWI Don Freeman Grant

2019 NESCBWI R. Michelson Emerging Artist Award

2019 NESCBWI Peter Davis Emerging Illustrator Scholarship

2017 NESCBWI Four by Four Mentorship Program, Mentee with Author Illustrator Ashley Wolff


Chronicle Books

Rise x Penguin Random House

Charles River Watershed Association

Mystic River Watershed Association

Sustainaville, Somerville MA.

Back Yard Growers, Gloucester, MA 


Central New England Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators

Fox Festival, Arlington Public Art, MA

HONK! Festival of Activist Street Bands, Somerville, MA

AS220 Foo Fest, Providence, RI

Somerville Arts Council, Somerville, MA 

Boston Area Gleaners, MA 

Photos: Greg Cook