Cover of the book Gracie the garden girl and her dog Smokey

Like many people in the early months of the pandemic, Warren resident Belinda Norris fell in love with every part of her garden. Who didn’t? Growing flowers and food felt so hopeful during that first spring and summer.


Norris, an international event planner, attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts when she was younger. Inspired by her garden, found herself picking up her watercolors for a painting which became the basis for her book “Grace the Garden Girl and Her Dog Smokey.”

It started with a painting of a girl in a red scarf and her dog. The book evolved throughout the year with the encouragement from friends and family. It’s a story about Grace, her dog and all of their friends including a cat, some robins, a rabbit and a family of chipmunks. It begins in January with Grace drawing pictures of her summer garden and plants paperwhite bulbs so she’ll have flowers all winter. 

The story moves forward season by season and month by month with beautiful illustrations of Grace’s year and each month featuring a tip or a how-to that range from how to plant paperwhite bulbs to how to feed the birds in February or understanding what pollen is and its role in growing flowers, fruit and more.

In May, Norris writes about lambs being born and lets readers know that they try to walk as soon as they are born. In August she offers this, “Earthworms do good work in a garden. They make the soil fluffy and fertilize it too. They are important garden help, so we thank them and always cover them up from the hot summer sun.”

The book includes a recipe for a summer picnic salad as well as a recipe to make dog treats.

The book is available in the children’s section at Artisans’ Gallery in Waitsfield.

Norris lives in Warren with her husband and dog Cary Grant (aka Smokey).