There is no drought of picture books about animal friends making a garden. The hook in this one is the message that when plans go awry, there may still be a rainbow at the end.
It is spring. Badger has dozens of jars of seeds that he saved from last summer to plant the “perfect garden.” His friends Red Squirrel, Weasel, and Dormouse help him by raking and clearing the ground, marking the rows with string, and making holes for the seeds. They celebrate their efforts with muffins and mulberry juice. Over the next three days damp weather accelerates from showers to a heavy downpour, and Badger is unable to rescue his precious seeds from washing away. Badger tries to distract himself from his sorrow with chores and projects (and naps). Then one sunny summer day his friends rush in to tell him he has the perfect garden after all; the seeds just found new places to grow. The attractive, full-page illustrations show flair and gentle humor (Badger’s yoga practice will have readers chuckling). The animals are lightly anthropomorphic; all wear some sort of human garment or accessory, and the texture of the animal fur is beautifully realized.
While lacking the timelessness of Kadir Nelson’s If You Plant a Seed (2015) and the humor of Janet Stevens’ Tops and Bottoms (1995), the message of coping with unmet expectations and not giving up hope is worthwhile. (Picture book. 5-8)