Written by Katie Smith Milway; illustrated by Sylvie Daigneault
Published by: Kids Can Press, 2010
Themes: Honduras, food security, agriculture, global awareness
Maria Luz Duarte scrapes the dry, brown earth with her hoe. Her family’s corn is short and scrawny this season.”
Maria Luz and her family are poor farmers who live in the hills of Honduras. Like many struggling farmers around the world, they grow barely enough food to feed themselves; When the family’s food supply runs low, Maria Luz’s father must leave to find work and she is left to tend their garden alone. Then a new teacher comes to town and changes start to happen. The teacher shows Maria Luz how to feed to soil with compost and create terraces that stop the earth from washing away.He shows her how to grow cash crops and even more importantly, how to bypass the predatory middleman, the coyote, and sell her produce directly at the market. And as other villagers see Maria Luz’s “good garden”, they too make changes that begin to transform their lives. New farming methods—and hope—spread through the hillside of Honduras like a healthy vine. (taken from book jacket)
Why I like this book:
This is a lengthy story for older elementary children based on a real family. They face problems very typical of developing nations. Around 75% of the poor are farmers who struggle to grow enough to feed their families, let alone make a surplus for things like health care of education. This book addresses a huge and pressing issue world wide and does not shy from also looking at the exploitation of many middlemen. I love how “the coyote” in this story is illustrated in his animal form! The story us upbeat and hopeful and shows how Hondurans implementing their own solutions. The text has a smattering of Spanish words for authenticity.
It is almost set out as a chapter book, with a longish text on one page and its corresponding illustration on the facing page. The Good Garden introduces children to a real global issue and then at the back, provides the readers with tools and information to help each child make a difference, both locally and globally. This book is a warm and optimistic read, following the challenges of a family the reader will care about. It is packed with information to help develop practical global awareness in our young children.
Visit the interactive website that is associated with the book: www.thegoodgarden.org
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources and activites, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.