A lad scarcely bigger than his pet worm struggles to maintain a large garden by himself.
The garden “didn’t look like much, / but it meant everything to its gardener. // It was his home. It was his supper. / It was his joy.” Lushly painted primordial plant forms surround the boy’s tiny thatched cottage; stylized depictions suggest proliferating invaders like thistle and plantain. As undesirables multiply and insects infest, the harvest worsens. The boy despairs: “he wasn’t much good at gardening. // … // He was just too little.” Dispatching an unheard wish for “a bit of help” into the night, the overworked lad sleeps for a month. His prized inspiration—a solitary red zinnia—also charms a “someone”—a full-sized, brown-skinned girl who lives nearby. “It was alive and wonderful. / It gave the someone hope. It made the someone want to work harder.” Several spreads showcase the transformation surrounding the slumbering boy as the girl weeds, sows, and transplants. The little gardener awakens to a colorful summer landscape of blooms, butterflies, even an increasing worm population. The narrative ends by coyly inverting its first lines: “He doesn’t look like much, but he means everything to his garden.” Given the girl’s major role, the contrivance doesn’t ring true. Hughes’ paintings trump her story, depicting the garden’s renewal through color and form.
A lovely visual tribute to the persistent hard work behind every flourishing garden. (Picture book. 3-7)