This charming look at a cooperative project outdoors in fresh air and sunshine captures the appeal of gardening and may...

THE CHILDREN'S GARDEN

GROWING FOOD IN THE CITY

A multiethnic group of five children plants and cares for their own neighborhood garden in a city setting.

This engaging story was inspired by a real community garden for children in Seattle. In this interpretation, the group of young gardeners includes two Asian girls, a black boy, a boy with light-brown skin, and a white boy. The kids appear to be on their own without adult supervision on this project, as they work cooperatively on a large plot of land with plentiful supplies for preparing the soil, planting seeds, watering, and weeding. The children also take time to play in the garden space and rest inside their “bean tent,” a cleverly constructed oasis of green bean vines twining around a tall structure of plant stakes. The short, evocative text effectively uses rich, imaginative language to describe the process of gardening with phrases such as “drip-drop damp” and sunflowers “rustling their leafy dresses.” Vivid illustrations in a naïve style use bright greens, sunny backgrounds, and a rainbow of flowers and produce to present the garden as a lively, welcoming environment. Anywhere Farm, by Phyllis Root and illustrated by G. Brian Karas (2017), also shows children gardening in an urban setting, making a nice pairing.

This charming look at a cooperative project outdoors in fresh air and sunshine captures the appeal of gardening and may inspire children to plant some seeds of their own. (author’s note) (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-57061-984-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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A visual feast teeming with life.

HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A FLOWER?

A young urbanite romps through floral fields and deep into a flower’s anatomy, exploring humanity’s connection to nature.

A solo car travels away from the dense, gray cityscape. Mountains rise up, full of pattern and light, before revealing a fluorescent field of flowers. A child bursts from the car across the page, neon-rainbow hair streaming in the wind, as both child and place radiate joy and life. The brown-skinned, blue-eyed youngster breathes in the meadow and begins an adventure—part Jamberry, part “Thumbelina,” and part existential journey as the child realizes the life force running through the veins of the flower is the same that runs through all of us, from the water that sustains to the sun that grows. Harris’ colored-pencil illustrations are full of energy and spontaneity. His use of patterning and graphic symbology evoke Oaxacan design, yet the style is all his own. The text is equally enthusiastic: “Have you ever seen / a flower so deep / you had to shout / HELLO / and listen for an echo / just to know / how deep it goes?” The text shifts abruptly from metaphor to metaphor, in one spread the flower likened to a palace and a few pages later, to human anatomy. Nevertheless, like the protagonist and the natural environment, readers will feel themselves stretch and bloom.

A visual feast teeming with life. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4521-8270-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it.

THE OLD BOAT

A multigenerational tale of a boat’s life with a Black family, written by two brothers who loved similar boats.

In the opening spread, a smiling, brown-skinned adult dangles a line from the back of a green-and-white boat while a boy peers eagerly over the side at the sea life. The text never describes years passing, but each page turn reveals the boy’s aging, more urban development on the shore, increasing water pollution, marine-life changes (sea jellies abound on one page), and shifting water levels. Eventually, the boy, now a teenager, steers the boat, and as an adult, he fishes alone but must go farther and farther out to sea to make his catch. One day, the man loses his way, capsizes in a storm, and washes up on a small bay island, with the overturned, sunken boat just offshore. Now a “new sailor” cleans up the land and water with others’ help. The physical similarities between the shipwrecked sailor and the “new sailor” suggest that this is not a new person but one whose near-death experience has led to an epiphany that changes his relationship to water. As the decaying boat becomes a new marine habitat, the sailor teaches the next generation (a child with hair in two Afro puffs) to fish. Focusing primarily on the sea, the book’s earth-toned illustrations, created with hundreds of stamps, carry the compelling plot.

A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-00517-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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