Charlie Tractor and the Garden by Carrie and Katie Weyler

If you are an avid follower of Kelly's Classroom Online, then you know how much I love animal stories and books and activities about gardening.  I recently discovered Charlie Tractor and the Garden by Katie and Carrie Weyler... a realistic fiction story based on real-life events... that has both pets and gardens... yay!  Charlie Tractor and the Garden is about a boy named Charlie, his dog Pickles, and the naughty mischief Pickles gets himself into.  How is this story based on real life?  What kind of 'pickle' does Pickles the dog get himself into?  (Yes... I went there...)  Keep reading and find out!

Learn about the characteristics of realistic fiction and making connections with the book Charlie Tractor and the Garden by Carrie and Katie Weyler.

Disclosure: Affiliate links to Amazon are included in this post.

Story Summary

Charlie, like most young boys, loves adventure, playing outside with his dog, Pickles, visiting his grandparent's farm, riding on tractors, and spending time exploring the outdoors with the people he loves.  When a squirrel-chasing adventure takes a turn, Charlie's dog winds up getting into the neighbor's vegetable garden and digs up some of the plants. Now, Charlie must take responsibility and learn how to clean up his dog's mess. What will Charlie do?

🍎 Author: Carrie and Katie Weyler
🍎 Illustrator: Rachel Novel
🍎 Publisher: Mascot Books
🍎 Date: August 1, 2020
🍎 Pages: 32

Learn about the characteristics of realistic fiction and making connections with the book Charlie Tractor and the Garden by Carrie and Katie Weyler.

Realistic Fiction

Not too long ago, I had a chance to ask Katie Weyler about Charlie Tractor and the Garden.  I wanted to know if the story was based on real life.  This is what she told me:

The story is realistic fiction. Pickles was our family dog growing up. Charlie was actually my younger sister's imaginary friend when she was little. My younger sister, Carrie, is the co-author of the Charlie Tractor books which are about her make-believe friend, Charlie. I don't think Charlie was actually based on a real person, but the whole family would talk about Charlie and his adventures as if he was a member of the family. Our dog, Pickles, did get into our neighbor's garden on several occasions and my parents told us to go help fix his garden. Our first book, Charlie Tractor and Pickles, talks about how we named our dog Pickles. It's kind of a funny story.

Before reading Charlie Tractor and the Garden with your students, you may need to do a minilesson about realistic fiction and what it is.  Realistic fiction is a type of fiction in which everything in the story feels like it could be real... but it's not.  Characteristics of realistic fiction include:
  • a setting in the present or recent past and in a location that could be real
  • characters whose actions and behavior could also be real
  • a problem involving real issues
  • a solution to the problem that's realistic and makes sense
Note: In realistic fiction, there are no dragons, fairies, ghosts, and vampires... there are only regular people experiencing and doing normal everyday things.

Learn about the characteristics of realistic fiction and making connections with the book Charlie Tractor and the Garden by Carrie and Katie Weyler.

Story Elements

Charlie Tractor and the Garden is a good example of realistic fiction and can be used to teach students about story elements.  The characters... including Pickles... are relatable, and students can imagine a dog getting loose and digging up a neighbor's garden.  Since the way Charlie solves the problem is logical, students would be satisfied with the ending.  The story elements in Charlie Tractor and the Garden include:
  • characters: Charlie, Pickles, Charlie's mother, and Mr. Dimmertweet
  • setting: in the present and in the neighborhood
  • problem: Pickles breaks free from Charlie, runs away and digs up Mr. Dimmertweet's garden.
  • solution: Charlie and his mother go to the store and buy new plants for Mr. Dimmertweet.  Charlie apologizes to Mr. Dimmertweet and helps him plant them.

Learn about the characteristics of realistic fiction and making connections with the book Charlie Tractor and the Garden by Carrie and Katie Weyler.

Many teachers like to use story maps to help their students record the characters, setting, problem, and solution of the stories they read in class.  If you need a story map feel free to use the one below.

To download a FREE copy of this story map (one page in all), please click on the image above. Clicking this image will take you to the Teachers-Pay-Teachers third-party website.  This is a FREE download-- no purchase necessary.

Learn about the characteristics of realistic fiction and making connections with the book Charlie Tractor and the Garden by Carrie and Katie Weyler.

Making Connections to the Story

When we read with our students, we should encourage them to make connections to the characters and events in the story. Being able to make connections will help students better understand what's happening in the story by activating their prior knowledge and making meaning of what they read.  We want them to be able to comprehend the text... not just be able to read the words.  There are three different types of connections we can help children can make:
  • Text-to-Text: the connections students make when the book they are reading reminds them of something else they've read
  • Text-to-World: the connections students make when something in the book reminds them of something happening in the world around them
  • Text-to-Self: the connections students make when the book reminds them of something in their own lives... thoughts, feelings, events, etc.

While you read Charlie Tractor and the Garden, numerous connections can be made.  For example, Pickles the dog may remind some of your students about their own dogs.  Maybe Pickles digging up Mr. Dimmertweet's garden reminds them of a time when their dogs caused mischief.  Maybe Chalie's mom helping him make things right with Mr. Dimmertweet reminds them of a time their parents help them.  Talk about these connections with your students.  Ask them, 'What does this story make you think about?'  Be patient with them and their responses.  Making connections is a skill that needs to be taught and practiced.

Authors Carrie and Katie Weyler

To learn more about Charlie Tractor and the Garden and the other books in the series, please visit Charlie Tractor's website.  You can also watch as Katie and Carrie Weyler announce the launch of the Charlie Tractor series in this Youtube video!

search words: dog, dogs, pet, pets


  1. Carrie & Katie WeylerDecember 12, 2020

    Kelly, Thank you for the wonderful post, and for all the great ideas for teaching students about realistic fiction. As an author, it is very rewarding when the readers can relate to a story and/or its characters. Getting students engaged in the story, and making connections with them is so important to raising readers. Thanks again for all the great tips for utilizing the Charlie Tractor books in the classroom!

    1. Hi Katie and Carrie! You're welcome for the post. I can see teachers using Charlie Tractor in the classroom. It's a good book and can be used to teach even more than just realistic fiction. Teachers could use Charlie Tractor as a book to integrate with their science units about plants and plant life cycles and in their language arts lessons about conversational dialogue as well. So many possibilities! I can't wait to see what Charlie will do in the next book in the series!