A community garden grows new friendships.
Starting third grade in a new school in urban Chicago, Anna misses her old life. Outside her school window there used to be green; now her view is gray. Her mother used to make family meals with fresh vegetables from their garden; now she’s cooking professionally, and it’s her father who makes dinner, using canned vegetables from the store. Once part of a trio of best friends, she can’t see anyone in her new class who looks welcoming. But when a school assignment matches her up with Kaya, whose abuela is an enthusiastic gardener, and Reed, who loves to dig in the dirt, they bond over the idea of forming a gardening club. Their need for an adult sponsor adds some suspense, but this hurdle is easily overcome. The appearance of garden-destroying raccoons adds humor. This comfortable school-and-friendship story is firmly set in the present day; Anna’s mother joins the family via computer video chat at dinner. The 8-year-old has believable worries and appropriate hesitations as she negotiates these big changes and the beginning stages of new friendships. The finished book will include black-and-white illustrations, not seen. The Friendship Garden series will continue with a companion book, Pumpkin Spice (2015).
Accessible and familiar, this series opener should appeal to relatively new readers of chapter books. (Fiction. 7-9)