Indian American fourth grader Nina Soni can’t believe her good luck: Unlike most years, this year, take-your-son-or-daughter-to-work day is sunny and bright and warm.
The beautiful weather means that Nina, her younger sister, Kavita, and her best friend, Jay, get to spend the day gardening with Nina’s landscape-architect mother. Nina, Kavita, Jay, and their families work together to build three raised beds, one for each of the children to use as their own first garden. Throughout the spring and summer, the kids help one another’s gardens thrive. This means finding ecofriendly, humane ways to fend off rabbits, blue jays, mosquitoes, and Japanese beetles. When their vegetables are ready, they share their successful harvests with their neighbors and a local food pantry. Through it all, Nina is determined to learn as much as she can so that she, like her mother, can become a master of the garden. As in previous books in this series, Nina’s sincere and circumspect narratorial voice—and her beautifully illustrated lists and asides—renders this story a delight to read. Sheth expertly weaves details about Nina’s Indian heritage together with her pride in being a Wisconsinite. However, unlike in previous volumes, the conflicts are largely unrelated to Nina’s personal relationships, and the plot meanders a bit, but not enough to deter either Nina’s fans or readers new to her world.
Plants aren’t the only things that grow in this book about perseverance, friendship, and personal growth.(Fiction. 8-12)