Life buzzes in a community garden.
Surrounded by apartment buildings, this city garden gets plenty of human attention, but the book’s stars are the plants and insects. The opening spread shows a black child in a striped shirt sitting in a top-story window; the nearby trees and garden below reveal the beginnings of greenery that signal springtime. From that high-up view, the garden looks quiet—but it’s not. “Sleepy slugs / and garden snails / leave behind their silver trails. / Frantic teams of busy ants / scramble up the stems of plants”; and “In the earth / a single seed / sits beside a millipede. / Worms and termites / dig and toil / moving through the garden soil.” Sicuro zooms in too, showing a robin taller than a half-page; later, close-ups foreground flowers, leaves, and bugs while people (children and adults, a multiracial group) are crucial but secondary, sometimes visible only as feet. Watercolor illustrations with ink and charcoal highlights create a soft, warm, horticulturally damp environment. Scale and perspective are more stylized than literal. McCanna’s superb scansion never misses, incorporating lists of insects and plants (“Lacewings, gnats, / mosquitos, spiders, / dragonflies, and water striders / live among the cattail reeds, / lily pads, and waterweeds”) with description (“Sunlight warms the morning air. / Dewdrops shimmer / here and there”). Readers see more than gardeners do, such as rabbits stealing carrots and lettuce from garden boxes.
Like its subject: full of bustling life yet peaceful.(author’s note) (Picture book. 3-6)