Review by Booklist Review
Faced with spending the summer with his aunt, Vincent isn't sure how things will go. Her neighborhood is gray and rundown, and he is lonely. One day he spots a boy throwing a ball against the wall of an empty lot. With his aunt's encouragement, Vincent takes an armful of her dirt balls a mysterious gift from a secret admirer and asks the boy, Toma, if he wants to help get rid of them by tossing the dirt balls into the empty lot. The two boys become fast friends, spending their days together playing ball, eating ice cream, and reading comics. As Vincent begins to feel more cheerful, the change is reflected in the color palette, which shifts from gloomy to rosy, with washes of watercolor layering lighter, brighter hues over the subdued grays and blues. The text and illustrations both render the urban setting with a tenderness not often seen in children's books. As it turns out, the dirt balls contained seeds inside of them. When Vincent and Toma discover that they unknowingly filled the empty lot with a lush garden, the community comes together to care for it as well as for one another. This is a heartwarming story of serendipity and connection, both among people and with the environment.--Amina Chaudhri Copyright 2019 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
While his mother recovers from surgery, Vincent stays with his easygoing aunt Mimi in an unidentified city. When someone mysteriously leaves Mimi a box containing balls of dirt, Vincent invites Toma, a neighborhood boy, to help him toss them into a vacant lot. Over the summer, flowers grow in the lot; the dirt balls, the boys learn, contained seeds. With a neighbor they had previously dismissed as "Mr. Grumpypants," Vincent and Toma water and tend to the flowers. Returning the following summer, Vincent brings more seeds to plant in what has blossomed into a lively community garden. Illustrating in watercolor and ink, Villeneuve blends pale green with light pink accents; modest apartment buildings, brick walls, and sidewalks sharply contrast with the garden's bright blooms, underlying the missive about the solace of community. Ages 3-7. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review
K-Gr 3-While Vincent is staying with his Aunt Mimi, he finds a box of dirt balls on her balcony. Dirt balls? Mimi said a friend sent them and he can use them if he'd like. When Vincent meets a boy his age, Toma, they decide that tossing the dirt balls into an empty lot is a good way to pass the day. Soon, a once curmudgeonly neighbor spies a few sprouts breaking through the soil and shows the boys how to care for them. Before long, the lot has flowers growing and the once drab apartment complex begins to blossom. The ink and watercolor art moves from stark, bland drawings to glimpses of green and the promise of what is to come. The book ends with all the colors of a thriving garden visited by apartment residents. This is a book of the beauty of interaction; the neighbors who come together in the garden, the boys who become fast friends, and the seeds hidden in deceptively simple dirt balls. All it takes is a bit of nourishment and care. Pair this with Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson & Sydney Smith to explore the importance of even the smallest of gestures. VERDICT A lovely addition to libraries and classrooms, especially those looking for multicultural characters and insightful books about friendship.-Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA © Copyright 2019. 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 Horn Book Review
A boy spending the summer with his aunt while his mother recovers from surgery makes a new friend by inviting a neighborhood kid to join him in throwing some mysterious dirt balls into an empty lot. This easygoing story about how gardens can foster community is illustrated with ink and watercolor art that, like a flower, lends grace to the urban landscape. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
Two boys learn valuable lessons about the power of nature.Sent to stay with his aunt Mimi while his mother recovers from surgery, young Vincent is less than thrilled to be spending his summer in a cramped city neighborhood. Soon, however, he meets Toma, a local neighborhood kid, and they spend their days playing ball and eating ice cream. Mimi asks the boys to dispose of a box of dirt balls that have mysteriously appeared, and what begins as a simple chore quickly becomes a project that breathes new life into the neighborhood and creates a sense of community that is stronger than the boys could have imagined. Larsen's text works nicely with Villeneuve's illustrations, channeling elements of The Secret Garden and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as well as such recent efforts as Peter Brown's The Curious Garden (2009) in re-creating the drab neighborhood that slowly is transformed through the planting of flowers and neighbors working to keep them alive. The opening double-page spread depicts a city awash in grayish-green as Vincent arrives. As the boys begin throwing the balls of dirt (actually seed bombs) into the nearby lot, more and more color slowly seeps into the pictures until the garden comes to life and the neighborhood reflects all of the colors of the rainbow. Vincent and Aunt Mimi present black, and Toma presents white.A sweet story that celebrates community coming together to create something wonderful. (Picture book. 3-7) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.