Review by School Library Journal Review
PreS-Gr 2-A basic introduction to community gardens for youngsters. Beginning with a lush, rural landscape with old houses, picket fences, and a young family gardening in their spacious yard, the narrative shows bulldozers arriving as "stone and metal, the city grows." Rather suddenly, viewers are in an established urban landscape of high-rise buildings and neglected, overgrown lots. Green and brown have turned to "pigeon blue and squirrel gray," though plants still peek out from "in between" pavement cracks and balcony planter boxes. The colored pencil illustrations depict a diverse cast of children and adults of all ages who see an overgrown city lot and with the repeated refrain of "Brown brown,/dig the ground" transform it into a vibrant garden. Back matter includes additional information on community gardens and pollinators as well as a butterfly craft project. The simple text pairs well with the detailed visuals, each spread packed with movement and activity. However, while the overarching theme of urban development followed by green redevelopment may be clear to adult readers, young audiences viewing the images may be confused by gaps. For example, the same family depicted gardening in the countryside at the opening of the story is shown just a few pages later, following some quick construction, on top of a building, admiring the night sky. It isn't obvious whether they moved to the city or the city sprung up around them within a very short time frame. VERDICT Though slightly marred by a confusing time line, this is nonetheless an attractive read-aloud for beginning lessons on gardening. A strong addition to most shelves.-Chelsea Couillard-Smith, Hennepin County Library, MN © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
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 Snchez'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) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.