Mae desperately misses her garden after moving to the city, with its tall, crowded buildings and narrow streets; her new urban environment offers no “winding paths and leafy hiding spots” or butterfly chases “in the wavy grass.”
Light-skinned with bobbed chestnut hair tucked behind her ears, Mae tries to cheer herself up, which will deeply impress young readers who couldn’t imagine being transplanted (and perhaps seem even more admirable to those who have!). She covers a cobblestone square with chalk drawings of caterpillars, leaves, dragonflies, dandelions, bees, and grass; she covers towering cardboard moving boxes with apple trees, lily of the valley, birds, daisies, and ladybugs. But the rain washes away her pictures, and her dad totes away the boxes. While the city has its own appeal, its elegant buildings stretching skyward and its charming storefronts cheery, Mae’s melancholy bleeds through, coloring everything. Wan watercolors offer some soft pinks, mellow reds, and mossy greens, but overcast slate blues and grays dominate. Verdant, dazzling endpapers at the book’s very beginning (dappled leaves covering the spread completely, dotted with little wildflowers and the faces of a few woodland creatures) make Mae’s changed circumstances painfully clear. When she stumbles upon Florette, a greenhouse plant shop crawling with vines, leaves, cactus needles, and blossoms, Mae finally sees she can bloom where she’s been planted.
Lessons in both gumption and the sacred nature of urban green spaces. (Picture book. 4-8)