Author: Colleen, Marcie
A little girl's creativity, dedication, and imagination turn a vacant city lot into a beautiful community garden.
Kirkus Reviews (+) (01/01/20)
School Library Journal (03/01/20)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (00/03/20)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 03/01/2020 K-Gr 2—An unnamed, brown-skinned girl with imagination, a seedling, and a stuffed panda bear is the catalyst for a community garden in her busy neighborhood. Despite being under her stuffed panda's watchful eye, the girl's seedling tumbles from her window, rolls across the street, and sprouts in the vacant lot where it comes to rest. "A baby garden!" cries the delighted girl upon finding her errant seedling. After she lavishes it with love, water, and protection, more seedlings grow, as does the interest of her busy neighbors. When the girl goes on a trip, she leaves her panda—stuffed full of her hope and love—in charge of watching over the garden. In her absence and with the help of the whole neighborhood, her baby garden becomes a place to grow, to play, and to love, for everyone. Colleen's text captures the hope, humor, and love of the protagonist. Oliver's illustrations not only mirror the text but tell important parts of the story. She uses single- and double-page spreads and panels, and her mostly dark background palette allows her foreground characters to pop in a wonderful way. She even manages to covey the emotions of the panda with subtle changes to its eyes and mouth. VERDICT An imaginative little girl who can always see the beauty in things transforms the empty city lot across from her apartment and in turn her neighborhood. A great addition to the growing urban gardens genre, and a good general purchase.—Catherine Callegari, Gay-Kimball Library, Troy, NH - Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 03/01/2020 Inspired by a Brooklyn community plot, this tells of a young African American girl who sees her city as “a place to grow, a place to play, a place to love.” In her multicultural neighborhood filled with cement sidewalks, stone buildings, paved streets, and empty lots, the girl imagines introducing something green to her life. She plants seeds in a tomato can that falls from her windowsill and rolls into a nearby empty lot. The child and her black-and-white stuffed bear care for the seedling that takes root. Though the girl must leave home for a while, she entrusts her bear to supervise activities and the garden lot blooms. Oliver used Photoshop to complete the mixed-media, cut-paper illustrations. The front endpapers show a bird’s-eye view of the city with a marker revealing where the Bear’s Garden is located; the final endpapers show the same map with other community gardens that have sprung up in nearby neighborhoods. Like Susan Verde's Hey, Wall (2018), a simple, powerful ode to community betterment. - Copyright 2020 Booklist.