As a community garden springs up between concrete blocks and asphalt slabs, the literal urban jungle’s praises are sung with each scene of burgeoning life.
Vegetable plots, flower beds, and containers inspire city dwellers of all stripes and sizes to “dig the ground.” The book’s rapid progression from idyllic country meadows at the outset to congested city blocks in just a few pages will puzzle readers. Has that same meadow become a victim of encroaching urban sprawl in the blink of an eye? Or has the lush rural landscape been juxtaposed with barren metropolitan streets for the sake of comparison? It’s at this moment that Sánchez’s multiracial city residents come together to transform a vacant lot into a community garden. Terse couplets of rhymes and near rhymes are interspersed with weak four-line verses. The uneven meter and unimaginative repetition drag the rhythm down. “Lift and clear. / Shovel rows. / Working together, / our garden grows… // and GROWS… // AND GROWS.” The artist’s deft hand captures the varied shades of green thriving across the countryside and the orchestrated greens of the communal garden. Along fences, on windowsills, and in postage stamp–sized yards, butterflies and bright flowers join in an explosion of color that draws neighbors together. A craft as well as tips for organizing community gardens and creating pollinator-friendly habitats are included.
The intricacies of the vibrant artwork dazzle, helping to lift the weak storyline. (Picture book. 3-7)